Friday, August 8, 2014

HOSTILE TAKEOVER at Picayune Rancheria of Chukchansi Indians; TEX McDonald Suspended

The Picayune Rancheria of Chukchansi Indians had another takeover late Thursday night, officials from the tribe's opposing factions confirm, reports MARC BENJAMIN.
The Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino in Coarsegold, which generates an estimated $100 million in annual revenue for the tribe, remains open.
Two people involved in the ongoing dispute for tribal leadership both say that a takeover happened, but differed on how it happened.

Richard Verri, a lawyer for a Chukchansi faction led by Reggie Lewis, said the change happened at a tribal council meeting Thursday night at the tribal business center near the casino. Verri said five council members had ethics charges filed against them. It left two members on the board who represent a different faction.
The two remaining members are Amanda Ramirez and Charles Sargosa. Verri said those two effectively suspended the other five: Tex McDonald, Donna Featherstone, Vernon King, Monica Davis and Linda Appling.
But Appling said about 30 members of the Ramirez and Wyatt families simply took over the tribal offices about 9 p.m. After they entered the building, the ethics charges were filed, Appling said.
David Leibowitz, spokesman for the tribe, said he has not heard a definitive account about what occurred Thursday night.
"I am still sifting through the details of what happened," Leibowitz said. "The situation is peaceful and it has had absolutely no impact on the casino ... it is business as usual at the Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino."
Verri said Nancy Ayala was involved in Thursday night's change. Verri said his group, led by Lewis, was not involved in the takeover.
Leibowitz said he was in touch with Ayala, the former board chairwoman removed by ethics charges last year, and she told him she was not at the tribal center "in any official capacity."
Leibowitz said he is unsure how the ethics complaints were recorded, but added, "these are all very good people who care very passionately about the tribe."
A Madera County sheriff's spokeswoman said "a conflict" happened Thursday night at the tribal business center near Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino and that Sheriff John Anderson was mediating throughout the night. The spokeswoman, Erica Stuart, said nobody was injured and deputies are running patrols around the tribal business center.
UPDATE: Received word from a Chukchansi member:  
Nancy Ayala along with Amanda Ramirez and Charles Saragosa have taken control of the picayune rancheria. Now is the time for all members to unite and put the past behind us before all is lost. This action was put in place by two council members (Amanda and Charles) that is not a quorum. They banned the quorum council off of casino property, so the quorum is now at the willow glen smoke shop. They want to move forward and bring all members together.

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