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An exhaustive 100-day preliminary investigation into allegations of corruption and fraud against a pair of former Chukchansi Tribal Council members has produced hundreds of pages of evidence of wrongdoing, according to a preliminary report issued by a team of independent investigators hired by the Chukchansi Tribal Council and the Tribal Gaming Commission.
The 62-page preliminary report, authored by a team including former FBI agents and forensic accountants who have reviewed thousands of pages of financial documents and interviewed dozens of witnesses, details alleged “unethical and criminal activities” committed by since-expelled Tribal Council Members Reggie Lewis and Chance Alberta.
Among the allegations detailed in the preliminary report:
“Reggie Lewis and Chance Alberta and their cronies have used our tribe as their personal ATM for far too long,” said Chukchansi Tribal Chairwoman Nancy Ayala. “The real shame is that the Chukchansi people are struggling and our casino is fighting to pay its bills. For these three to have seized millions and wasted it – I think that’s truly criminal. Their conduct has made it extremely difficult for us to do the business of the tribe – including making the per-capita payments we’ve made and funding programs for tribal elders and families’ child care. We’re getting the job done for our people, but the Lewis group keeps trying to sabotage us.”
Dennis Nelson, one of the lead investigators on the case, says that the waste here, in his experience, rivals anything he’s seen in more than 20 years of such work. “At every turn, we’ve seen lies, deceit and a pattern of money vanishing in huge sums. And with every question we have asked, the Lewis faction has grown more determined to cover up their conduct.”
Dr. Karen Wynn, treasurer of the Tribal Council, was joined by her Council colleagues in calling for a federal investigation into the evidence tribal auditors have uncovered. Every passing day, said Wynn, allows more Chukchansi money to be seized and misspent.
“The U.S. Department of Justice and the FBI need to take immediate action,” said Wynn. “We’re fortunate to have received confirmation from the Bureau of Indian Affairs that we are the rightful Chukchansi Tribal Council. Now we need the help of federal law enforcement to protect our people from losing millions of dollars more to predators out to fill their own pockets.”
The investigation into Chukchansi Inc. and the Lewis group continues. So does the cooperation of the Chukchansi elected and tribal gaming officials with state and federal law enforcement.
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Thursday, December 12, 2013
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