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 "Jicarilla Casino Poorly Run"-

Associated Press

In an article in the Albuquerque Journal, Thursday, July 1, 1999, titled Report: Casino Poorly Run; Loans, Spending, Nepotism Cited in Jicarilla Deficit by Chris Roberts of The Associated Press, a picture is painted of disorganization and corruption.

The article states: "The Apache Nugget Casino has been so poorly managed that the Jicarilla Apache Tribe had to provide nearly $1.2 million to cover deficits in its first two years of operation, despite nearly $16 million in revenue, according to a management review obtained by The Associated Press.

"The Dulce casino's accounting system is in 'total disarray' and revenue was funneled into a loan program used by tribal officials and their friends and relatives, according to the report by a Dulce management consultant."

Roberts writes, "The report details examples of nepotism, financial mismanagement, high salaries for friends and relatives of casino managers and excessive travel expenses but generally doesn't blame specific individuals for the problems."

Casino tribes have been adamant in keeping their records secret from the public, so this revelation casts suspicion on all of the tribal casinos that protest the release of their financial information.

The National Indian Gaming Commission indicates that it is going to investigate the situation. The commission's director of congressional and public affairs wouldn't comment on the status of the investigation. "He said the commission can hand out notices of violations, assess fines and issue closure orders."

Various other public officials from the Justice Department, including the FBI, indicate they are looking into the matter, but are reluctant to reveal their findings.

The Journal article mentions that "The Apache Nugget casino opened in May 1996. It is at the center of a dispute on the Jicarilla Reservation that has led to the ouster of an elected president, Arnold Cassador, and a power struggle among tribal families. At stake is a casino that, according to the report, had revenues of nearly $8 million in each of its first two years of operation.

"Cassador, who resigned last week and then was impeached, has accused the
council of corruption and said casino profits are being funneled to friends and family of the Tribal Council. He opposes casino gambling as a revenue source for the tribe."

The review, commissioned by tribal council members, "found the casino's accounting system 'is totally inadequate and leaves room for fraudulent activity and/or embezzlement.'"

Casinos, whether tribal or corporate, attract graft and corruption. Tribal protests that Native American casinos are run for the public good and insist that an air of integrity and honesty surrounds them should be ignored.