COARSEGOLD, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Chukchansi Tribal Council, headed by Tribal Chairwoman Nancy Ayala, this morning hailed a key court ruling by New York State Supreme Court Justice Melvin L. Schweitzer. The Justice’s decision – over the objections of former Tribal Council Members Reggie Lewis and Chance Alberta – approved the Tribal Council’s request for more than $1.7 million to be paid today to the on-rancheria Tribal Gaming Commission and to the Ayala-led Tribal Government and Chukchansi Economic Development Authority.
“The Judge struck a blow for transparency. It will be interesting to see how Reggie Lewis and Chance Alberta explain millions of dollars spent on high-priced lawyers, fancy office space, $3,000 meals and thousands of dollars in iTunes purchases.”
In ruling for the Ayala Council, Justice Schweitzer cited “the non-specific nature of the objections lodged by the Lewis faction to the specific categories of payments budgeted” by Ayala and her Council colleagues. The funds, said Ayala, will be used by the Tribal Gaming Commission to continue to oversee the Chukchansi Gold Casino – oversight mandated by law for the Casino to avoid closure – and to make upcoming per-capita payments and continue elder services, scholarship payments and other core services provided to tribal members.
“This was a critical moment for the Tribe and we won,” said Ayala. “Had the Lewis-Alberta group had their way, it would have resulted in the Casino closing its doors. That would have halted per-capita payments our people rely on and halted the services our more than 900 members count on every day. I’m grateful for Justice Schweitzer’s wisdom in seeing through the Lewis-Alberta group’s absurd objections. Greed wasn’t allowed to rule the day.”
Schweitzer’s ruling also ordered the Lewis group and the Ayala Council to provide a listing of “any Casino revenues they have obtained from the Casino since May 30, 2012 and how such revenues were expended.” Tribal Council Secretary Tracey Brechbuehl hailed that order as vital, so Tribal members can see how the Lewis-Alberta group has spent the millions of dollars it has siphoned from the Tribe’s coffers.
“The forensic investigation conducted by a team of accountants and former FBI agents shows that the Lewis-Alberta group illegally seized more than $8 million after they fled the rancheria to set up shop in their glass tower in Fresno,” said Brechbuehl. “The Judge struck a blow for transparency. It will be interesting to see how Reggie Lewis and Chance Alberta explain millions of dollars spent on high-priced lawyers, fancy office space, $3,000 meals and thousands of dollars in iTunes purchases.”
Judge Schweitzer set a court hearing for September 11, 2013.