Factions of Chukchansi Tribe fighting over proceeds from casino

The Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino in Coarsegold, California. Photo © Picayune Rancheria of the Chukchansi Indians

Rival factions of the Picayune Rancheria of the Chukchansi Indians in California continue to fight over revenue from the tribe's casino.

A group led by Nancy Ayala has overseen the daily operations of the Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino. But another group led by Reggie Lewis claims more than $316,000 in casino cash was illegally diverted to yet another leader named Tex McDonald.

Lewis is now suing in federal court to prevent the release of additional funds -- about $1.4 million a month, according to the complaint. He claims to be the only legitimate leader of the tribe.

"It is unfortunate that a small group of individuals continue to defy the will of an overwhelming majority of tribal members and the recognition of the federal government," Lewis said in a press release.

The dispute has held up the distribution of $1 million in gaming revenues to local agenciesand non-profits. A federal judge said the money couldn't be released as promised.

The Bureau of Indian Affairs has said it will conduct business with an "interim" council that includes Ayala, Lewis and another rival leader.

Get the Story:
Virtual Civil War Rages in Casino Tribe (Courthouse News Service 2/24)
Chukchansi dispute halts $1 million in donations (The Fresno Bee 2/21)
Chukchansi lawsuit requests casino money (The Fresno Business Journal 2/21)

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