AKWESASNE — The defense has made a motion that a grand-larceny charge be dropped against a Hogansburg man accused of taking land from its deeded owner.
And it is using a pending U.S. Court of Appeals case to bolster its argument, in hopes that, one day, Indian land-claim issues will be heard by U.S. Supreme Court justices.
Lake Placid attorney Brian Barrett filed a motion last month in Franklin County Court to have the charge dropped against his client, William Roger Jock, a member of the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe.
TRAILER ON LAND
Jock, 50, known by the Mohawk name Kanaratiio, is a member of the Kanienkedaka Men's Society, or Mohawk Warrior Society, of Akwesasne.
He was indicted by a grand jury on a charge of second-degree grand larceny for allegedly depriving Horst Wuersching of his property on Route 37 near the Akwesasne Mohawk Casino.
Jock is accused of initially taking more than 240 acres and then another 800 acres in March 2009 by cutting down trees and creating a dirt path into the woods.
He allegedly placed a large Iroquois flag and trailer there, which is used as a retail cigarette shop. A small wooden building was recently built next to the trailer.
The charge refers to theft of property valued at $50,000 or more.
Franklin County Court Judge Robert G. Main Jr. had not made a ruling on the motion as of Wednesday.
According to the County Treasurer's Office, the true-market value for the property at
100 percent equalization is nearly $540,000.
Barrett submitted an omnibus motion with the court that calls the prosecution's grand-larceny charge "a novel allegation."
But he said Jock has not stolen anything because the land is still there, its title had not been transferred, and "there are material facts in dispute."