Law | National

Authorities were warned about ex-Cedarville Rancheria leader





Local authorities were warned about Cherie Lash Rhoades, the former chairwoman of the Cedarville Rancheria of California, months before she allegedly murdered four people at the tribal offices.

Shelia Lynn Russo, 47, the tribe's administrator, was one of the victims. After she was hired, her husband said she noticed questionable spending by Rhoades and her son, who was the tribe's vice chairman.

“They throw a $50,000 figure out there, but that's probably half of what is out there. And that’s only for 2012. Cherie was the Tribal Chairwoman for probably the last 10 years,” Philip Russo told KTXL.

Rhoades tried to fire Sheila Russo, her husband said, but wasn't able to because the tribe changed its employment procedures. That's when the former chairwoman got violent, he said.

“Cherie Rhoades actually tried to shove my wife back into the building,” Philip Russo told KTXL.

Sheila Russo went to local authorities but was told there was nothing they could do. So tribal members drew up a petition to remove Rhoades and her son from office.

They didn't stop there -- they evicted Rhoades and her son from tribal housing. At her appeal hearing, Rhodes allegedly killed four people, including her brother, Rurik Davis, 50, who replaced her as chair.

“Cherie Rhoades had always tried to intimidate tribal employees with violence, tribal members with violence,” Philip Russo told KTXL.

Rhoades has pleaded not guilty to charges of murder and attempted murder. She could face the death penalty if convicted.

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