Vernon King is one of the 15 individuals that were arrested on 29 felony counts for the October 9, 2014 office raid at the tribe’s Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino. While King faced a trespassing charge for the dispute that ultimately led to the casino’s closing, he was permitted to settle the case without having to make a trespassing plea. As part of Monday’s disposition agreement, if in the next six months King does not commit any criminal offenses the case against him will be dismissed, according to The Fresno Bee. King was facing a prison sentence for his involvement in the dispute.
On the night of October 9, the casino gaming office was forcibly entered by members of the Tex McDonald faction as well as its security officers and tribal police. They were there to search for documents for two years’ worth of audits that failed to be submitted to the National Indian Gaming Commission on time. Because of the office raid 500 patrons and employees had to be evacuated. While no serious injuries resulted from the raid, there were some physical assaults reported and an electrical shock device was used.
Tribal police and security officers employed by the McDonald faction were arrested; McDonald and King the only tribal council members arrested. Judge Dale Blea determined that King would not be a danger and after spending six months in the Madera County Jail he was released. According to other participants in the raid, King wasn’t involved in any of the assaults. They also said that after the raid he was seen sleeping in the casino office.
McDonald however, was captured on video scuffling with an opposing security team member. He was convicted of a non-strike felony offense of false imprisonment and spent eight months in the Madera County Jail. McDonald already had two previous strikes and if convicted of the felonies that were alleged in the original complaint was facing a life sentence.
The case should have never been filed, according to Mark Coleman, the attorney who represented nine of the fifteen men arrested. Coleman was also the attorney for the three tribal police officers present at the casino the night of the raid, and was able to get them the same deal as King last month.
Six weeks prior to the raid the McDonald faction lost control of the casino when members of the Reggie Lewis/Nancy Ayala group gained access to the casino and holed up on the hotel’s top floor. The casino and hotel were closed by Judge Lawrence J. O’Neill the day after the raid at a U.S. District Court hearing. Judge O’Neill also required that any reopening plans be approved by the federal gaming commission and the state attorney general.
Two weeks ago an agreement was reached between the tribe and Madera County. While government agencies have yet to sign off on the agreement, it is expected to be approved by state and federal officials. Once approved, the casino should be open for business in a few weeks, according to tribal officials, but until that time it remains closed.