A federal judge ruled Friday that the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of California, has jurisdiction over a lawsuit filed in March by the Paskenta Band of Nomlaki Indians against former tribal officials and senior employees accused of defrauding the tribe of tens of millions of dollars.
The court rejected claims by defendants that the lawsuit, filed under the federal Racketeer Influence and Corruption (RICO) Act and other state and federal laws, is an intra-tribal dispute and therefore the court had no jurisdiction to hear any of the tribe’s claims.
“We are gratified by the court’s decision,” said the Tribal Council in a statement. “The tribe brought this action to hold responsible a group of individuals who, for well over a decade, conspired to steal tens of millions of dollars from the tribe.”
The tribe owns and operates Rolling Hills Casino just off of Interstate 5 near Corning.
The lawsuit comes after four members of the Tribal Council were ousted by tribal membership in April 2014, which culminated in a prolonged armed standoff at the casino in June 2014, the destruction of computer records and the disappearance of a private jet owned by the tribe.
The suit names defendants Leslie Lohse, the tribe’s former treasurer; Larry Lohse, the former tribal environmental director; John Crosby, the tribe’s former economic development director; and Ines Crosby, the former tribal administrator, among 15 other defendants.
Subsequently, the two factions came to an agreement to hold an election in September 2014 “to allow the members of the tribe to determine the tribe’s governing body,” according to a July 2014 Daily News article. The election resulted in the tribe siding against the ousted members.
Judge Garland Burrell Jr. also denied the defendants’ attempt to dismiss the tribe’s restitution claims, including those filed against banks, retirement funds and a gold and silver broker, which conducted business with the ousted members during the period the alleged theft of funds took place.
“The court’s decision affirms the tribe’s ability to pursue claims against all of the 20-plus named defendants,” said the tribe’s co-counsel Andrew Purdy.
The court dismissed claims against the businesses but suggested amended claims could be filed in some cases.
Well, finally a little light shines through. Keep it going.
Their is a shockwave moving across California bigger than anything the San Andreas fault could make. I would bet that all the crooked attorneys in Indian gaming are beginning to quiver and quake with fear. They are probably meeting right now to determine if they are going to stand and fight or if they will run away. Howard the Coward is probably already running away. Enjoy those Ferraris while you can Howard. I am sure your name will appear on the amended complaint. On the other side of California there is the beginning of big sigh of relief. A sigh that is long overdue. This is just a beginning. Long overdue but the cracks in sovereign immunity are starting to show.
The corruption practiced by greedy tribal leaders is bringing decisions such as this; I look forward to more to come.
This has nothing to do with tribal sovereign immunity.
Isn't that Leslie Lohse involved with something to do with Robert Smith and his Tribal alliance company or something.
Why yes it does, I guess patience really is a virtue.
4:23 pm you are absolutely right this has nothing to do with sovereign immunity. For once the courts are going to get it right and not let the crooks hide behind tribal sovereignty. Sovereignty is not a shield against criminal activity. These bums are going to learn the true meaning of tribal sovereignty. It is the right of the tribe and not the right Howard Dickstein bestowed upon his band of merry crooks (CTBA). Just wait until they get subpoena power to search the records of California Tribal Business Alliance. That is where the cash flow/money laundering really occurs.
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