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Two men were arrested in connection with drug sales in Ogdensburg

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Two Ogdensburg men were arrested in connection with drug and illegal cigarette sales in the city Wednesday night.

Ogdensburg police alleged in a news release Thursday that they found Michael J. Wells Jr., 38, with two ounces of marijuana, more than 14 cartons of untaxed cigarettes, a variety of illegally possessed prescription narcotics and drug paraphernalia. City police said they also found Mr. Wells with a throwing star.

He was charged with four counts of seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, fourth-degree criminal possession of marijuana, fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon, unlawful possession of untaxed cigarettes, fifth-degree criminal tax fraud, and second-degree criminal nuisance, all class A misdemeanors.

Information about what kind of prescription drugs Mr. Wells had in his possession was not available Thursday.

City police said Mr. Wells was charged with criminal tax fraud for allegedly failing to pay the state’s excise tax for the cigarettes. The state levies a $4.35 excise tax per pack of cigarettes. Based on the number of cigarettes seized, Mr. Wells allegedly defrauded the state of $639.45 in excise tax.

Mr. Wells has been the subject of an ongoing investigation for allegedly selling illegal drugs and cigarettes from his home at 1130 Ford St., city police said.

With a search warrant in hand, members of the city police department, its Narcotics Enforcement Unit, and St. Lawrence County Drug Task Force members searched the home at approximately 7 p.m. Wednesday.

In addition to drugs, cigarettes, weapons and drug paraphernalia, officers allege Mr. Wells had a minimum of eight people living in his residence, converting its rooms into single-room occupancy dwellings. Mr. Wells was charged with second-degree criminal nuisance for allegedly “knowingly maintaining a residence where persons gather for the purposes of engaging in unlawful conduct,” according to the news release.

City police said conditions in the home were unsafe, and the code enforcement officer was called to levy building code violations.

Mr. Wells was held in city lockup overnight and arraigned Thursday morning in City Court. Judge William R. Small released him under probation supervision.

City police said Robert B. VanHorn, 20, who also lived in the home, was charged with unlawful possession of marijuana. He was released on an appearance ticket, with a later return date to city court.

The investigation remains ongoing, and further arrests may be pending. County Drug Task Force members involved in the arrest were from the county Sheriff’s Office.

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