FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Daniel Warren (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Upstate Citizens for Equality (UCE, http://www.upstate-citizens.org ), a grass roots organization of taxpayers in upstate New York, calls for an investigation into the handling of the illegal gambling at Turning Stone by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, The U.S. Department of the Interior, National Indian Gaming Commission, The United States Attorney for the Northern District of New York, The Oneida County District Attorney and the State of New York. Below is the text of the e-mail dated June 18, 2007 sent to the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Interior (Earl_Devaney@doioig.gov), Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Justice (email@example.com) and the Chairman of the New York State Commission of Investigation (Commissioner@sic.state.ny.us).
From: Daniel Warren [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Monday, June 18, 2007 6:35 PM
To: Hon. Earl E. Devaney; Hon. Glenn A. Fine; Hon. Alfred D. Lerner
Subject: Request for investigation relating to the dereliction of duty or malfeasance relating to Turning Stone Casino in Verona, NY
On behalf of Upstate Citizens for Equality I am writing to request that each of you initiate an investigation into why the Bureau of Indian Affairs, The U.S. Department of the Interior, National Indian Gaming Commission, The United States Attorney for the Northern District of New York, The Oneida County District Attorney and the State of New York is failing to address the illegal gambling being conducted at the Turning Stone Casino. It is an inescapable conclusion that this situation is a result of gross dereliction of duty or malfeasance.
The tribal-state compact that this casino was purportedly operating under was declared invalid by the New York Courts in Upstate Citizens for Equality, Peterman, et al v. Pataki, et al., 4 Misc. 3d 1028A and was affirmed by the Appellate Division, Fourth Department of the New York Supreme Court (21 A.D.3d 1387) and the New York Court of Appeals denied leave to appeal (6 N.Y.3d 713) and the Oneida Indian Nation's petition to the U.S. Supreme Court was denied (127 S. Ct. 730).
Furthermore, the land upon which Turning Stone is situated on is not Indian land. There is currently pending an application to have the land upon which it is situated taken into trust, but that does not make it Indian land within the meaning of that term under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act while the application is pending.
In the wake of these issues the U.S. Department of the Interior reconsidered its approval of Turning Stone's compact ( see http://www.upstate-citizens.org/DOI-Letter-to-Spitzer-Halbritter.pdf ). UCE's attorney submitted a letter outlining our position that there was nothing to consider and that the appropriate federal and state officials need to act on this illegal operation (see http://www.upstate-citizens.org/UCE-DOI-Letter-032107.pdf ). Despite the blatant illegality of Turning Stone the U.S. Department of the Interior refused to rescind its approval or take any action (http://www.oneidanation.net/pressroom/deptofInteriorletter06132007.pdf )
It is well settled that the issue of whether or not a State has entered into a compact under IGRA is determined by state law and the DOI cannot make an invalid compact valid by administrative fiat. In 1995 the New Mexico Supreme Court determined that its governor lacked the authority to enter into a compact under IGRA in the absence of legislative authorization (this is the identical issue decided by the New York courts in Peterman v. Pataki). The United States District Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit held that "that the Governor's lack of authority was fatal to the compacts' validity under IGRA" in Jicarilla Apache Tribe v. Kelly, 129 F.3d 535. In Pueblo of Santa Ana v. Kelly,104 F.3d 1546 the Tenth Circuit held that "[w]hile preservation of tribal sovereignty was clearly of great concern to Congress, respect for state interests relating to class III gaming was also of great concern. We are hesitant to conclude that Congress intended to permit a state to be bound by a compact regulating class III gaming which it never validly entered."
The conduct of gambling in the State of New York without a tribal-state compact under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act and off Indian land is illegal (Penal Law article 225). This illegal conduct under state law also constitutes a criminal offense under federal law (18 USC §§ 1166, 1955, 1957).
We have called on those officials responsible for the enforcement of these laws to act numerous times with no result. Given the exhaustion of all appeals in UCE v. Pataki and Sherrill v. Oneida Indian Nation one can only conclude that the failure to act is either due to malfeasance or gross dereliction of duty and we request that each of you investigate this matter.
Daniel T. Warren
Chairman, Niagara Frontier Chapter of Upstate Citizens for Equality