In California, the Picayune Rancheria Of Chukchansi Indians is distancing itself from a group that has filed federal lawsuits against various Madera County law enforcement officials alleging malicious prosecution, false arrest, economic losses, emotional distress and excessive bail.
As reported on Tuesday citing a story from The Fresno Bee newspaper, the six actions from the nine plaintiffs have been brought in the United States District Court For The Eastern District Of California in Fresno against former Medera County District Attorney Michael Keitz along with retired sheriff John Anderson and seek damages and compensation for lost wages and bail as well as attorney and court costs.
The suits, which also reportedly name current Medera County District Attorney David Linn alongside prosecutor Nick Fogg and other members of the Madera County Sheriff’s Office as defendants, allegedly stem from the plaintiffs’ arrests after they tried to wrest control of the tribe’s Chukchansi Gold Resort And Casino from a rival faction on the morning of October 9, 2014.
Mark Coleman, a defense attorney that represented the men in their original unsuccessful criminal cases in front of Madera County Superior Court Judge Dale Blea, told the newspaper that the group led by Tex McDonald had believed that their authority to conduct the raid against the rival faction headed by Reggie Lewis had come from a tribal council resolution and was based on the tenets of Public Law 280.
“They were operating under the belief that they were lawfully deputized law enforcement officers,” Coleman told The Fresno Bee.
However, Claudia Gonzales, Chairwoman for the Picayune Rancheria Of Chukchansi Indians, has released a statement calling the McDonald party “an unauthorized group of individuals” and claiming that the raid led to the Coarsegold facility being shut down by the “National Indian Gaming Commission and the state of California”.
“Those individuals were not authorized by the governing body of the tribe to conduct any raid,” read the statement from Gonzalez. “The plaintiffs in these suits are not members of the tribe and have no standing to sue [Madera] County on our behalf. I have directed our tribal attorneys to assist [Madera] County in dismissing their lawsuit[s] immediately.”
Gonzalez declared via the statement that the Picayune Rancheria Of Chukchansi Indians has a “longstanding partnership” with Medera County and has “helped bring jobs and economic vitality to the region”.
“Since the election of new tribal councils we have made great progress and in just the past year we have successfully re-opened the [Chukchansi Gold Resort And Casino], re-established our economic base and created nearly 1,000 jobs.”
She moreover explained in the statement that the Picayune Rancheria Of Chukchansi Indians had since “reinstated many of our membership programs” and announced “nearly $1.5 million in community grant monies going to 33 organizations throughout Madera County” on December 4.
“The lawsuit[s] recently filed in federal court [are] the work of nine rogue individuals who do not represent nor reflect the hard work and appreciation the [Picayune Rancheria Of Chukchansi Indians] has for Madera County,” read the statement from Gonzalez.