Two Chukchansi leaders, each claiming to be the rightful chairperson of the Picayune Rancheria of Chukchansi Indians, remain at odds this week, with each raising concerns about how the tribe's money is being handled.
Reggie Lewis' tribal council maintains control of the tribe's bank accounts, and Nancy Ayala's tribal council has maintained control of security and management at Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino, along with many members of the tribal gaming commission -- although Lewis' council said many of these individuals, including Ayala, were suspended by a quorum of the tribal council last month, and should not be conducting business on behalf of the tribe
Lewis' group has alleged that casino cash is being mismanaged under the direction of Ayala.
The alleged mismanagement includes: hoarding casino cash in casino cages instead of depositing it into the financial institution that maintains the tribe's deposit control accounts -- mandated by agreements the tribe has with its casino bondholders; opening a new account with a small Fresno area bank to deposit cash, which is not authorized by tribal agreements in place; and suing the tribe's depository bank in a "kangaroo tribal court created overnight," stated a recent letter from Lewis to tribal members.
"Thank goodness they don't have the authority to bring such a lawsuit because they would have created a bad act under our indenture (with the casino's bondholders) and the tribe would lose all of its government funding as a result ($1 million a month from casino profits)," said Rob Rosette of Rosette Attorneys at Law, the firm representing the council led by Lewis.
A $17,000 check to Ayala's attorney was also illegally cashed at the casino because the banks that hold the tribe's accounts do not allow Ayala to access the tribal funds, said Richard Verri, lawyer with Rosette Attorneys at Law.
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