Leaders of Chukchansi Tribe seek release over casino feud

Tex McDonald, a rival leader of the Picayune Rancheria of the Chukchansi Indians. Photo from Facebook

Two disputed leaders of the Picayune Rancheria of the Chukchansi Indians who were involved in a casino clash are asking a judge in California to release them from jail or reduce their bail.

Tex McDonald, the chairman of one faction of the tribe, and Vernon King, the treasurer, are accused of taking part in an armed confrontation that led to the closure of the Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino on October 9. But they say they pose no danger to the community.

“My assessment of Mr. McDonald is that he displayed good character in his performance of duties," reads a letter of support from the Sierra Tribal Consortium, where McDonald used to work, The Fresno Bee reported.

Vernon King, a rival leader of the Picayune Rancheria of the Chukchansi Indians. Photo from Facebook

“As far as our community is concerned, Vernon is always there. Many, many times using his own resources," Oliver Baines, a city council member in Fresno, told the paper.

McDonald, 64, was injured in a fight in Madera County jail over the weekend, according to news reports. His bail has been set at $2.4 million, the highest of the 15 people who have been indicted in the dispute.

King, 59, is diabetic and has mobility issues. His bail was set at $1.75 million, the second highest amount.

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

The casino has been closed under a permanent injunction issued by a federal judge at the request of the state. The National Indian Gaming Commission also issued a notice of violation and a temporary closure order to the tribe.

Get the Story:
Chukchansi twists: Tex McDonald roughed up in jail; Oliver Baines supports Vernon King (The Fresno Bee 11/12)
Chukchansi Gold Resort and Casino's Tex McDonald suffers broken jaw in jailhouse fight (KSFN 11/11)

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Faction of Chukchansi Tribe defends actions in casino dispute (11/7)

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