Cayuga Nation

A drive-thru tobacco stand is open on land next to the Finger Lakes Drive-In in Aurelius.

AURELIUS — One operator of a smoke shop behind the Finger Lakes Drive-In has been taken into custody as the town of Aurelius takes legal action against both the shop and the theater.

Dustin "Dusty" Parker was apprehended at Seneca County Probation Thursday evening. Parker, 29, opened a drive-thru cigarette shop in early August on a 1.19-acre lot that used to be part of the drive-in. Parker and Jason Silversmith, both members of the Cayuga Nation, took ownership of the land for $0 from the drive-in's owner, Paul Meyer, in the nation's name.

Parker is being held without bail in the Seneca County Jail.

Parker's sister, Amber, said Friday that he was taken into custody while checking in with his Seneca County probation officer, Dan O'Neil. Dustin was determined to have violated his probation by leaving the county without notifying O'Neil, an action Amber called "odd and petty" because Dustin has been leaving the county regularly since starting a construction business about a month ago.

A message left with Seneca County Probation was not returned.

Aurelius Town Supervisor Edward Ide said that after being taken into custody, Parker was also served with paperwork by the town of Aurelius for zoning violations.

"Hopefully we've averted any sort of confrontation, like (the 2014 altercations between Cayuga Nation factions) in Union Springs," Ide said. "That would really be an awkward place to have something like that."

Ide deferred comment on the nature of the violations to the town's counsel, David B. Thurston, who did not immediately respond to requests for comment Friday.

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Ide said the town has additionally taken legal action against Meyer.

Furthermore, the drive-in owner is "in trouble" with the DEC, the supervisor said, for clearing wetlands behind the theater and attempting to burn trees there with diesel fuel, and then burying the trees. Some of the property on which this took place, Ide said, was not Meyer's.

A message to the state DEC press office Friday was not returned. Meyer also could not be immediately reached for comment.

The drive-in's fence on the edge of Clark Street Road has recently been extended, cutting off access to its ticket window. Silversmith, who was at the smoke shop Friday fielding customers, said Meyer merged the shop's easement driveway and the drive-in's own due to language in the land's deed.

Silversmith also called the action against Parker "petty." He added that he believes the town of Aurelius has no grounds to take action against him and Parker because, as Cayugas, their sovereignty means they answer only to the federal government.

Silversmith also said that there has been no recent communication between the two cigarette vendors and the two factions of the Cayuga Nation leadership, who last week accused Parker and Silversmith of fraudulently acquiring the property in the nation's name without official sanction.

For now, though, business has been picking up at the smoke shop, Silversmith said — and so has its customers' support.

"We're amazed at the support we're getting," he said. "The public, by and large, they support that we're here."

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Lake Life Editor David Wilcox can be reached at (315) 282-2245 or david.wilcox@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @drwilcox.


I'm the features editor for The Citizen and auburnpub.com, and have been here since 2006. I also cover local arts and culture, business, food and drink, and more.