In Oklahoma, the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes has reportedly filed a lawsuit in its own tribal court against multiple parties it claims helped to cheat the federally-recognized tribe out of some $13 million.
According to a report from The Oklahoman newspaper, the action was filed in the tribe’s Concho-based court on September 28 and names website developer Universal Entertainment Group as well as one of its chief consultants, Fereidoun ‘Fred’ Khalilian, among 13 defendants.
The newspaper reported that the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes paid Miami-headquartered Universal Entertainment Group some $9.45 million in 2012 to help it develop an online gambling domain at PokerTribes.com. However, the site never got off the ground while the whole affair subsequently prompted the National Indian Gaming Commission to launch an investigation.
Eddie Hamilton, Governor for the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes, which has over 8,660 enrolled members, declared in a statement that he had initiated the lawsuit following the conclusion of an ‘intensive investigation into these and related matters’.
The Oklahoman revealed that the lawsuit contends that Universal Entertainment Group never had the legal rights to sell the software for the envisioned PokerTribes.com website because it was allegedly not owned by Khalilian but by one of his former business partners. The action moreover alleges that this associate later successfully sued the defendant in a Georgia state court although that judgment was later overturned on appeal.
“The transactions were marked by deceit, greed and utter disregard for the laws and economic well-being of the tribe,” reportedly read the tribe’s lawsuit.
The newspaper explained that Universal Entertainment Group subsequently partnered with the federally-recognized Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma in hopes of launching a similar online casino at PokerTribe.com. This venture purportedly obtained a license from the Isle of Man’s Gambling Supervision Commission last month and has plans to go live later in the autumn.
Responding to the lawsuit, Khalilian reportedly told The Oklahoman that Hamilton was ‘a sore loser’ who had ‘egg on his face’ because the Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma had ‘gone further than the Cheyenne and Arapaho [Tribes] ever did’.
The newspaper reported that Thomas Fox and Barbara Joann Paukei, who previously helped to manage the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribe’s four Lucky Star Casino-branded casinos, have also been named as defendants alongside Brian Foster, the tribe’s former Gaming Director.
The Oklahoman reported that Foster responded to the lawsuit by echoing Khalilian’s belief that the whole affair was politically motivated as Hamilton is set to stand for re-election later in the year and faces numerous challengers.
“I believe it’s definitely politically motivated,” Foster reportedly told The Oklahoman. “It’s unfortunate they didn’t stick with it. They would have done very well. My position was to create business for the tribe and this was obviously a technological advancement.”
The newspaper detailed that Universal Entertainment Group partners Tatiana Vlasenko and Isaias Almiras have additionally been named as defendants in the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes’ suit. They have been moreover joined by attorney Richard Grellner, who had helped to negotiate the deal for PokerTribes.com, as well as former Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes Governor Janice Boswell.