Lawyer leads Gabrielino group's quest for casino

Jonathan Stein, a 50-year-old lawyer, is single-handedly pushing a faction of the Gabrielino-Tongva Nation of California towards a casino even though the tribe lacks federal recognition.

Stein, who is non-Indian, calls himself the chief executive officer of the Gabrielino-Tongva Indian Tribe. He wants his group to open a casino in Garden Grove, just a few miles from Disneyland.

Experts say that won't happen since the Gabrielinos aren't anywhere near recognition. But Stein says the state can authorize gaming for any particular group.

Another of Gabrielinos disputes Stein's group and his legitimacy. This group is not interested in a casino. But even some former allies of Stein also say he is trouble and are suing him in state court.

"He wanted to take control of everything, including the money," Martin Alcala of the Gabrielino Tribal Council told The Orange County Register. "And when we parted company, he did everything in his power to destroy us."

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Gunning for a Garden Grove casino (The Orange County Register 8/28)