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Arizona Native Resort Records Probed

7 May 2002

PARKER, Arizona – As reported by the Arizona Republic: "Federal authorities have seized documents and computer records in connection with a money-skimming investigation of the Indian tribe sponsoring a ballot initiative to liberalize Arizona's casino laws.

"As much as $6 million may be missing from the books of the gambling resort owned by the Colorado River Indian Tribes, law enforcement sources have told The Arizona Republic.

"…The April 26 raid, a joint operation of the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs and the tribe's police force, reportedly happened after an internal feud on the tribal council boiled over.

"Acting tribal Chairman Russell Welsh called for the investigation after receiving threats from another tribal member who is suspected of misappropriating money from the Blue Water Resort and Casino in Parker, authorities said.

"…The raid at the Blue Water may create image problems for the New Indian Gaming Initiative, which the tribe is spending an estimated $11 million to promote through statewide television ads. Canvassers paid by the tribe have acquired enough voter signatures to put the measure on the Nov. 5 ballot, but the signatures have not yet been verified.

"The initiative would, among other things, limit the regulatory powers of state gaming inspectors and permit casinos to have up to 6,000 slot machines.

"Known by the acronym CRIT, the tribe has staked out a maverick role for itself in the debate over Indian gaming. It broke with the rest of the state's gaming tribes earlier this year and refused to sign off on a gaming compact negotiated with Gov. Jane Hull…"

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