Police for faction of Chuckchansi Tribe dispute charges at casino

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

The police chief and an officer who were hired by one faction of the Picayune Rancheria of the Chukchansi Indians are speaking out about a dispute that led to the closure of the California tribe's casino.

Chief John Oliveira and officer Tim Tofaute say they only went to the Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino to obtain documents that needed to be submitted to the National Indian Gaming Commission. They now face numerous charges in state court after they got into an armed confrontation with tribal members from another faction.

"I can't imagine one of the claims or the charges that are placed on us that our video won't show the contrary action to," Olivera told KRNV, referring to video of the October 9 incident.

"I'm still dumb-founded," added Tofaute. "Our legal counsel, every council that we have spoken to, they are perplexed by this."

Olivera turned himself in after being charged but is out on $1.25 million bail. The tribal leaders that hired him -- Tex McDonald and Vernon King -- remain in jail on higher bond amounts.

Tofaute is also out after posting an $800,000 bond. He and Olivera are now conducting their own investigation into the incident and they believe the charges against them won't hold up in court.

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 for failing to submit audits and for failing to protect the public health and safety at the facility.

Get the Story:
Local "Casino Takeover" suspect speaks out (KRNV 12/8)
Two more suspects in Chukchansi casino raid turn themselves in (The Fresno Bee 12/3)

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