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Morongo, N9NE Dispute Heats Up

7 June 2005

CALIFORNIA – As reported by the California Press-Enterprise: "A company that ran two upscale restaurants, a nightclub and a bar inside the Morongo Casino Resort and Spa until early last week is claiming the tribe locked out its employees and forcibly closed the establishments in violation of its lease.

"The N9NE Group also said in a statement that the Morongo Band of Mission Indians, which owns the Cabazon resort, had taken 'unnecessary and unwarranted action' amounting 'to the illegal confiscation' of company property.

"…On June 1, N9NE Group employees and casino patrons showed up to find the businesses closed. In a statement that day, tribal chairman Maurice Lyons said the N9NE Group had asked out of its leases and needed an answer that day.

"…On Friday, the tribe reopened Belly Italiano as The Restaurant at the Top, and Space Bar, atop the casino's 27-story hotel, as the View Bar. The other properties --the N9NE Steakhouse and the Desert Rain nightclub -- remain closed.

"…But on Monday, N9NE Group spokesman Charlie Sipkins refuted the tribe's characterization of these events, pointing to the firm's strongly worded statement.

"…The tribe is still using the N9NE Group's property, equipment and 'proprietary themes,' the company added. 'We intend to pursue all appropriate legal action to protect our rights and prevent the tribe's unlawful conduct.'…"

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