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Ogdensburg Rastafarian arrested for violating probation

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OGDENSBURG — Ibrahim M. Abdulghani, 41, of 315 Belmont Courts, was arrested by city police at 4:15 p.m. Tuesday on a St. Lawrence County Court bench warrant and charged with violating his probation.

The nature of the alleged violation was unclear; county court officials were unavailable to provide further information Tuesday evening.

Mr. Abdulghani, who says smoking marijuana is a religious ritual for him as a Rastafarian, pleaded not guilty last month to possession or transportation of unstamped cigarettes, a class E felony. Mr. Abdulghani was the last of three people arrested for allegedly being in possession of 10,080 individual, untaxed cigarettes.

He tested positive for marijuana but was released on probation, with a warning from St. Lawrence County Judge Jerome J. Richards that if he continued to smoke it or refused to submit to drug tests he would be jailed.

Mr. Abdulghani promised to fight this restriction on the grounds of religious freedom.

Upon arrest Tuesday, he was taken to the St. Lawrence County Correctional Facility and held pending arraignment.

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