Many of the aboriginal or Native Indian Tribes in the United States make a significant amount of their revenue from their tribal based casinos. The casinos that operate on reservation land come under a different set of laws when compared to other land based casinos in the United States.
The tribes invest huge amounts of money in building, developing and running these casinos and rely heavily on having a successful tribal leadership who have the ability to scale the tribe’s casino business and ensure the future well-being of the tribe. The leaders for each tribe play a huge role in absorbing and executing these responsibilities.
The Muscogee Nation of Oklahoma once appointed Roger Dana Barnett to be the second chief of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation of Oklahoma and expected Barnett to take their tribal casinos to another level. However, Barnett did just the opposite and used both his position and his authority to embezzle funds from the casino and spend it at the casino. Barnett was accused and prosecuted in 2014 for stealing tribal funds to feed his gambling addiction. He would later plead guilty to those charges in October 2014 and admitted stealing a tribal credit card and withdrawing large sums of money, which he later used to gamble at the casinos.
The court accepted his guilty plea and sentenced Barnett to federal prison for a period of thirty three months. The sentencing also requires Barnett to pay back a total of $211,880.76 to the tribe as restitution for his abuse of the trust and honesty that tribe placed in him. Barnett has also been ordered by the court to not go near a casino during the three years he will serve on supervised release after he returned to society in 33 months.
The Muscogee Nation of Oklahoma were initially devastated to know learn that their second chief had manipulated tribal funds and breached their trust. In a statement, Chief George Tiger said “The sentence handed down today to former Muscogee (Creek) Nation Second Chief Roger Barnett by the U.S. Northern District of Oklahoma Court was felt throughout the Nation. The Muscogee (Creek) Nation continues to heal and unify during these trying times, but we will reemerge stronger and will persevere. We ask that all tribal citizens, employees and media respect the privacy of Mr. Barnett and his family, and we continue to pray for him and his family. That is the Mvskoke Way.”
The Muscogee Creek Nation has now elected Louis Hicks to serve as their second chief of the tribe.