Monday, February 24, 2014


Elizabeth Warmerdam of Courthouse News has an excellent story on Chukchansi Council Corruption:

Managers at the Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino in Coarsegold diverted more than $316,000 in revenue to an illegal faction after a leadership dispute that included acts of violence, according to a federal lawsuit and tribal statement.

     Picayune Rancheria of Chukchansi Indians, operators of the casino, have been disputed their tribal leadership since the December 2011 election, and three groups - led by council members Nancy Ayala, Reggie Lewis and Morris Reid - lay claim as representatives of the rightful council.

     In February 2013, Ayala attempted to disenroll hundreds of tribal members, then forced the other six members of the Tribal Council out of office and replaced them with an entirely new council consisting of her friends and family members, according to local media reports and the tribal website,

     She also took control of the casino, by installing a security and management team loyal to her, according to a tribe's website, checked this morning.

     The factions continued to battle and the situation deteriorated, so the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs stepped in on Feb. 11 this year. The BIA said it would conduct business on an interim basis with the last uncontested Tribal Council, which was elected in December 2010.

     That council consists of Lewis as the chairman, Nancy Ayala, Dora Jones, Chance Alberta, Jennifer Stanley, Morris Reid and Nokomis Hernandez.

     In the Feb. 11 letter sent to tribal, local, state and federal authorities, Amy Dutschke, the Sacramento-based regional director for the BIA, said that the level of conflict within the tribe "is extremely concerning." She cited a report in February 2012 that "an attempt to take over the Tribal Office by one of the factions led to violence, resulting in a stabbing of one individual, and requiring the Madera County Sheriff's Department to intervene. In February 2013 it was reported that a faction occupied the Tribal Office threatening violence with respect to anyone who attempted to remove the faction."
     The political dispute interfered with operations of the casino and led to multiple financial hardships, Dutschke said. Federal agencies were unable to determine who they should be conducting business with, causing some federally funded tribal programs to shut down.

     On Feb. 19, the BIA asked the Department of the Interior to make the BIA decision effective immediately, noting "concern that 'immediately following the Regional Director's issuance of [the United States Decision], counsel for the Ayala Faction communicated his concern that any attempt by the Tribal Council recognized I the [United States Decision] to resume control of the Tribal Officers and/or Casino could possibly result in murder,'" according to a lawsuit filed in federal court the same day. (The Picayune Rancheria of Chukchansi Indians et al. vs. Giffen Tan, et al., paragraph 21.)

     That lawsuit was filed after the reinstated tribal council was notified on Feb. 13 by its depository bank that casino management had delivered two bags of cash containing $316,700 to an illegal faction led by Ted McDonald, claiming to be the Tribal Council, the Lewis-led council said in a statement.

     Named as defendants in Picayune et al. vs. Tan et al. are Tan, Joyce Markle, Larry King and Ted Atkins, all part of the casino's management team.

     That Feb. 18 lawsuit states: "Defendants' past and presently ongoing conduct provide plaintiffs and this court with reason to believe that defendants will make additional distributions of Casino revenues in the very near future to entities or individuals who are not recognized by the United States as the Tribe. Such distributions are estimated to be more than $1,400,000.00 on a monthly basis, and, if issued to persons or entities not recognized by the United States as the Tribe, will violate the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, the Tribe's Gaming Compact with the State of California, and the Tribe's Gaming Ordinance."

     The council claims that once the casino's assets have been disbursed they cannot be recovered, which will harm the 900-member tribe.

     "It is unfortunate that a small group of individuals continue to defy the will of an overwhelming majority of Tribal members and the recognition of the federal government," Lewis said in a statement on the tribal website. "There is only one Tribal Council recognized by the United States and stealing money from the Tribe will not be tolerated. Threatening violence for following the BIA's decision shows that the illegal faction is desperate, but the Tribal Council will follow the legal process as we always have done to ensure the smoothest transition possible."
     The tribe seeks an injunction preventing casino management from making any further disbursements to any person or entity other than the tribe recognized by the United States.


Anonymous said...

Watch Reggie will be the next to cause mass shootings, with his undercover ex cops running surveillance and threatening to fire every single employee at the casino....

f said...

lewis statement from the article:

"Such distributions are estimated to be more than $1,400,000.00 on a monthly basis, and, if issued to persons or entities not recognized by the United States as the Tribe, will violate the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, the Tribe's Gaming Compact with the State of California, and the Tribe's Gaming Ordinance."

that's a laugh...BOTH current factions at picayune--reggie lewis's and nancy ayala/tex mcdonald's--have been guilty of "violating the indian gaming regulatory act (IGRA), picayune's indian gaming compact with the stat of california, and the tribe's gaming ordinance" as well as just about everything in the tribes constitution and enrollment ordinance...this goes for the "elected" tribal councils over the last decade at picayune as well...

Anonymous said...

The chukchansi as well as other tribes need to fashion a checks and balance for the governments. The U.S. Government learned from Iroquois nation, time foe the rest of the natives to follow suit. We need a legislative (council), judicial, and executive..... Which would limit the power of any council, no longer could they make up the rules to fit them as they see fit for the moment.

Anonymous said...

Checks and balances to prevent any one group from abusing power is a requirement in a constitutional government. All tribes should be working to make sure their constitutions provide for separation of powers and checks and balances of power.

Also for gaming tribes there must be an external independent audit of financial reports performed on a regular basis and an oversight committee with the power to enforce compliance with tribal law, especially as regards distribution of revenue.

It only benefits those who seek to embezzle funds for tribes to trust the honesty of elected officers. Tribal officers should be reviewed just like any employee, and the funds must be verified to prevent internal theft.

These aspects of tribal government need to be put in place, and the BIA should withhold approval of any constitution that has no provision to ensure the honesty and integrity of tribal officers.

Anonymous said...

Chukchansi is a non ira tribe so its "constitution" obviously is not up to par. Unfortunately there is no separation as of now. The tribe council also calls its self "ceda" which is supposed to run the gaming side. Same exact people. They decide what they make who they pay and then sign their own checks. Embezzlement Is their goal, and that goes for all past councils. That's the way they want to keep it. If Reggie has his way, all employees will be fired. The government buildings will be leveled and he will continue his dictatorship. He has placed himself on council for how many years now???? The only reason he is or was trying to work with Morris is because it no longer fit his wallet to keep them pushed out. He will just go back and re-kick them out. His plan all along. Careful Morris supporters, don't think your safe just yet.

Anonymous said...

Do they know that there are lengthy prison sentences awaiting them for tax evasion if income tax taxes are not paid on the embezzled funds? Do they know that the Banks that financed the casino can take control of the Casino and refuse to pay any tribal member anything until the bank loans of over $300 million are repaid? The IRS and the tribe’s loan underwriter bank are sure to send in a horde of auditors, including the IRS Criminal Investigation Division, into the casino, the tribe, and audit the personal tax returns of anyone even remotely connected with it?

Anonymous said...

I wish they would, please expose all the frauds for what they are!!!!!! I'd love more than anything to see prison sentences for all who have done wrong and stolen money, no matter which faction you come from! If you did or do wrong you should be punished. End of story. If the IRS can take down Capone why not these dirty rat bastards.

Anonymous said...

I agree (Feb.25 at 10:54)In time these corrupt tribal leaders will slip-up and their A** will be sitting in prison. And do you think I will feel sorry? Heck No !!! How can the native people stand proud when there are (so called) leaders doing these things? My tribal council is so out of control and most of our members can't do a thing about them. I don't think Great Creator is happy. Time and greed will stop these criminals, they think they have all the answers and boy are they wrong.

Anonymous said...

The corrupt will expose themselves in time and then maybe we can undue the wrongs they have done to our people. Each morning ask our Creator to make things right.