BIA Recognized Tribal Council Files Federal Lawsuit Against Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino Interim Managers to Force Compliance with Federal Law and To Prevent Distributions to Unrecognized Individuals

Lawsuit seeks to stop Chukchansi Casino management from making payments to illegal faction claiming to represent Tribe

Feb 20, 2014, 20:32 ET from Picayune Rancheria of the Chukchansi Indians

FRESNO, Calif., Feb. 20, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- The Picayune Rancheria of the Chukchansi Indians filed a lawsuit against casino management in federal court on February 19 seeking to enforce compliance with federal, state and tribal law and to stop management at the Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino from continuing to distribute money to an illegal faction led by Tex McDonald claiming to be the Tribal Council.

The suit was necessary after the casino's depository bank notified the BIA recognized Tribal Council that casino management delivered two bags of cash containing over $300,000 to the illegal faction on February 13, 2014 two days after the United States' BIA decision. This cash delivery not only violates proper handling procedures of casino revenue required by federal, state and tribal law, but also is in direct contradiction to the February 11, 2014 BIA decision recognizing Reggie Lewis as the Chairman of the Chukchansi Tribe. The February 11 decision recognized the Tribal Council led by Reggie Lewis as the only governing body authorized to act on behalf of the Tribe. Under federal law, the Board of Directors of the casino mirrors the Tribal Council, making the casino management's payment to the illegal faction a violation of federal law.

The Tribe was also compelled to seek intervention from the federal courts after the illegal faction threatened violence following the BIA Regional Director's ruling that the illegal faction had no authority to represent the Tribe. The BIA requested from the Interior Board of Indian Appeals ("IBIA") that the decision become effective immediately and stated in its order to the Interior Board of Indian Appeals that Lester Marston, counsel for the illegal faction, communicated to the BIA that "any attempt by the Tribal Council to resume control of the Tribal Offices and/or Casino could possibly result in murder."

"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," said Reggie Lewis, Chairman of the Chukchansi Tribe. "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 expects the IBIA to issue a ruling quickly on the United States' request that the Regional Director's decision that Chairman Lewis and the other six members listed in the decision can resume control of the Tribal Office and Casino without incident.

The Picayune Rancheria of the Chukchansi Indians is a federally-recognized Indian Tribe that has lived continuously in California's Central Valley and Sierra Foothills for more than 12,000 years. Today, the Chukchansi Tribe operates the Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino on its ancestral territory in Coarsegold, California. The casino employs over 1,200 individuals making it one of the largest employers in Madera County. For more information on the Chukchansi Tribe go to:

SOURCE Picayune Rancheria of the Chukchansi Indians