Chukchansi Casino Closure – Update
On Wednesday, a US District Judge ordered that the Chukchansi Casino in Coarsegold, California, remain closed to customers, but it has allowed one of the tribal factions, that headed by Damien Lewis, to continue overseeing the management of the casino as well as provide pay packets to the employees that are still working.
During the court hearing, Judge Lawrence O’Neill also advised members of the tribe’s warring factions to begin negotiating with each other and set meeting to resolve the conflict so the casino could reopen.
“The shutdown is causing enormous strife and hardship to employees” the Judge said during the hearings. “I know it’s harming many, many collateral businesses in the community”.
The judge also ordered that a skeleton crew remain at the casino and on the job in order to maintain the casino and allow for a quick reopening, should the state order that the closure be lifted.
The orders for the closure were issued by the State Attorney General’s Office at the behest of the National Indian Gaming Commission after a fight broke out between two armed factions of the Chukchansi tribe and forced nearly 500 patrons to leave the casino and hotel. Madera County Sherriff, John Anderson has said that no arrests could be made in connection with the armed standoff between the tribal factions as the event took place on tribal land. Local law enforcement has criminal jurisdictions over the tribal lands in California under Public Law 280, but this was not the only thing that prevented law enforcement to make arrests. Some of the men involved in the standoff, were also wearing police uniforms and are thought to be members of the tribal police force.
But, investigators have identified numerous people involved in the standoff based on the security footage attained from the casino. “We’re building a case now and will send it to the DA” Anderson said. “All those people who committed violations will be arrested”.
Both sides say that guns were drawn by the other party and tazers have been mentioned in official reports as well. But, when personnel from the Sheriff’s Department arrived on scene, no firearms were found.
During the standoff, where one faction was located on the 11th floor of the casino and the other in the lobby, mountains of paperwork was seen being moved from the casino into awaiting cars. Reports say that this paperwork, three truckloads of it, have been returned to the Chukchansi Casino at the orders of Federal Judge.
The paperwork is believed to be at the center of the dispute with Tex McDonald’s factions claiming the casino is being mismanaged by the other and is looking to take over the casino to ensure it’s survival.
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