A group that believes it is the duly elected governing body of the tribe that owns Rolling Hills Casino claimed Friday that casino operations have "temporarily ceased." A different group, which appears to be in control of casino operations, rejected the claim, saying it's business as usual at the casino.
Armed security guards clad in black uniforms and stationed on the grounds of Rolling Hills Casino also serve as a backdrop to the ongoing dispute over the leadership of the Paskenta Band of Nomlaki Indians.
The tribe owns and operates the casino, and at its annual General Council meeting April 12 that comprises all adult members of the tribe, a disagreement has emerged over the actions taken by the five-member Tribal Council. which governs the tribe and at the time included Chairman Andrew Freeman, Vice Chairman David Swearinger, treasurer Leslie Lohse, secretary Geraldine Freeman and member-at-large Allen Swearinger.
Andrew Freeman announced in a press release April 30 that members of two families in the tribe were suspended by a quorum of the General Council, and he alleged some of those members took part in the theft and misappropriation of more than $1 million of tribal funds. He added an investigation is ongoing.
Attorney Richard Verri, who said Friday that he represents the tribe, said members were suspended because they may not meet certain criteria to be members of the tribe. He also alleged that David Swearinger, Geraldine Freeman and Lohse vacated their positions on the Tribal Council after leaving the meeting while it was in session. New Tribal Council members, Verri said, were appointed by the General Council. They include Leticia Miller, vice chairperson, Ambrosia Rico, treasurer and Andrew Alejandre as secretary. Allen Swearinger is said to still be a member-at-large.
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