Trial opens in case connected to Choctaw Nation casino work

A view of the Choctaw Casino Resort in Durant, Oklahoma. Photo from Facebook

A former official for the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma went on trial on theft and bribery charges in connection with a tribal casino expansion project.

Jason Brett Merida is the former executive director of construction administration for the tribe. He's accused of using the Choctaw Casino Resort in Durant to submit false bills that the tribe paid.

When Merida was indicted in March, the U.S. Attorney's Office did not put a dollar amount on the alleged theft. But federal prosecutors said the tribe was cheated out of $7 million when six people pleaded guilty in connection with the scheme in August 2013.

The tribe is adding a hotel, conference center, bowling alley, a movie theater and events center to the casino. A 11,000 square-foot pool area was completed this summer.

The contract for the casino work was awarded to Flintco, an Indian-owned firm whose former employees were involved in the scheme. The company apologized to the tribe last year.

Get the Story:
Trial starts for a former Choctaw Nation construction director (The Durant Democrat 10/30)
Expansion is a milestone for Choctaw casino, tribe (WFAA 10/30)

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