FBI Raids Shinnecock Gaming Authority in Ongoing Probe

Gale Courey Toensing
5/1/13

 

The Federal Bureau of Investigation raided the Shinnecock Indian Nation reservation early this morning and conducted a search of the tribal Gaming Authority’s offices and the home of a member of the Gaming Authority, tribal members said.

According to a report on Newsday’s website, the FBI confirmed that the raid took place. Peter Donald, spokesman for the FBI, declined to say exactly what the raid and investigation were about. "We can confirm we are doing a search in connection with an FBI investigation. It’s ongoing," Donald said.

Tribal members who asked not to be identified said the FBI arrived at the Long Island reservation around 6 a.m. and were on site most of the morning. “There are 15-20 FBI agents here and at least six or seven state police cars as well. They are raiding the Gaming Authority trailer and the home of one of the Gaming Authority members. They are up here deep,” a tribal member told Indian Country Today Media Network. The Gaming Authority office contains computers and documents relating to the tribe’s effort to establish a casino in partnership with Michael Malik, a Detroit-based casino developer who is financing the tribe’s efforts to establish a gaming facility. (Related Story: Shinnecock Leadership Dispute Sparks Investigation, Election Battle)

But tribal members said they didn’t know if the FBI had seized any computers or documents. “A complaint was made to the FBI but we don’t know what they’re looking for and we don’t know exactly what the investigation is about. They’re interviewing a cast of characters,” another tribal member said.

On March 7, former Shinnecock Trustees Lance Gumbs and Gordell Wright, who were defeated in elections in early April, filed a request with the elected Tribal Council for an investigation into an alleged secret deal that former Trustees Randy King, Fred Bess and Gerrod Smith made with Malik. Gumbs and Wright also filed a similar request March 28 with the National Indian Gaming Commission for an investigation to include the Department of Justice and other federal agencies regarding potential violations of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act and criminal violations of federal statutes involving a “takeover of tribal government” involving Gateway in an attempt to “defraud” the tribe of gaming and other economic development revenues.

A bitter leadership dispute took place last year in which Gumbs and Gordell were accused of wrongdoing. The two former trustees denied the allegations, which Gumbs said started after he and Wright began questioning the Gateway deal.

ICTMN has recently received a 256-page document concerning a deal that former trustees King, Bess and Smith made with Gateway and other developers regarding a proposed massive casino-entertainment-retail development at Willets Point near Citi Field, home to Major League Baseball’s New York Mets. A full story on the raid, the request for a federal investigation and the Willets Point proposal will follow.

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MICHELLE JOHNSON's picture
MICHELLE JOHNSON
Submitted by MICHELLE JOHNSON on
The Shinnecok Nation removed your personal friends Lance and Gordell and three others because they attempted to negotiate unauthorized back door deals using the Nation's lands, finances and resources. We welcome a full fledged investigation by the FBI because it will further substantiate the TRUTH of the matter!

Billy Woessner's picture
Billy Woessner
Submitted by Billy Woessner on
Though its predictable, I hate reading about people whom I grew up with squabbling over the financial windfall long overdue the people of the Shinnecock Nation. I wish you all well going forward and finding the path that enriches all Shinnecock equitably and hope that the chase of financial wealth doesn't turn you against one another.
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