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Chris Sieroty

Feds investigating misused funds by California tribe

9 December 2011

NORTH FOLK, California -- The U.S. Department of Interior and FBI are investigating possible misuse of funds by a California Indian tribe in connection to money the tribe receives from Station Casinos LLC for a proposed casino project.

An attorney for the North Fork Rancheria band of Mono Indians said Wednesday that the tribe was cooperating with the federal investigation. He declined to discuss any specific allegations being investigated by federal authorities.

"The investigation apparently concerns the use and disclosure of the limited funds advanced to the tribe for its proposed casino project under its development agreement with Station Casinos," said John Maier, an attorney for North Fork Rancheria. "This information is routinely made available to tribal citizens in considerable detail, including general ledger records of each and every check drawn from the project and other unrestricted tribal funds."

On Tuesday, FBI agents and agents with the Office of the Inspector General for the Interior Department served a search warrant at the tribes' headquarters in North Fork in Central California.

"The tribe therefore does not understand the basis for the investigation and is dismayed that information which the tribe would have been more than willing to provide is instead being secured with a search warrant," Maier said.

Station Casinos officials declined to comment Wednesday beyond the statement issued by the tribe's attorney.

Station Casinos contracted with the 1,900-member tribe in March 2004 to build and operate the gaming resort on 305 acres in Madera County, 30 miles north of Fresno. Financial terms of the agreement have not been disclosed. The tribe initially submitted its application in 2005. The Interior Department in September approved the North Fork casino, which is expected to include 2,500 gaming machines and a 200-room hotel.
Feds investigating misused funds by California tribe is republished from