Seneca Gaming Corporation Board Members Under Investigation

October 29, 2012 Updated Oct 29, 2012 at 11:11 AM EDT

By WKBW News

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Seneca Gaming Corporation Board Members Under Investigation

October 29, 2012 Updated Oct 29, 2012 at 11:11 AM EDT

CATTARAUGUS/ALLEGANY, NY (WKBW/Release) - On Tuesday, October 23rd, the Seneca Gaming Corporation (SGC) Audit Committee passed a resolution to initiate an investigation against SGC Board Members Cochise Redeye, Corporate Secretary, and Jeffrey Gill on the charges of fraud and conspiracy to commit fraud against the billion dollar gaming corporation owned and operated by the Seneca Nation.

SGC Chairman Robert E. Mele has been identified as a co-conspirator in the investigation.

“These are serious allegations that have happened under the leadership of Seneca President Rob Porter,” said Seneca Presidential Candidate Barry Snyder, Sr.

“Both Gill and Redeye were Porter appointed Senecas entrusted to lead the Nation’s largest business enterprise and to protect the economic security of the Seneca Nation and its people. Based on newly released facts, this conduct has been going on for many months and people at the top of our Seneca Nation leadership have known about it.”

Cochise Redeye announced his run for Seneca Nation President as an independent candidate in September. Jeffrey Gill is currently running as a Cattaraugus Tribal Councillor candidate on the Richard Nephew/Rob Porters ticket.

As a sitting member of SGC’s Audit Committee, Gill did not attend Tuesday's meeting where the resolution was passed to proceed with the investigation.

Mele is being named as a co-conspirator for failing to take action as instructed by the SGC board when allegations of potential fraudulent behavior by Gill and Redeye were first brought to his attention early this year.

“Chairman Mele’s lack of leadership at this time is of great disappointment to me as I was responsible for appointing him to the Board in 2008,”Snyder added.

The SGC Audit Committee has retained Jacobson, Buffalo, Magnuson, Anderson & Hogen to conduct the investigation. The firm, located in Minneapolis, is nationally recognized for specializing in Indian tribes and non-Indian commercial interests on Indian-law issues.

The audit committee has its own charter giving it sole, complete, and absolute autonomy to retain outside counsel, investigators, consultants and accountants without full Board knowledge or approval. Its primary responsibility is to protect the finances and assets of SGC, especially in cases of fraud, theft and improper use of corporate property.

“These revelations bring to light even more clearly that dramatic change is quickly needed to ensure the integrity and economic sovereignty of our Nation,” said Snyder.

“Our elders, adults, children and grandchildren deserve better than the divisive and corrupt leadership that has been going on for the past two years. Senecas working in any leadership capacity, whether elected, appointed or hired, work for our people, not for themselves.”

“There has been a pattern of unethical behavior by those involved in this investigation that has gone on for far too long and it needs to stop now,” said Snyder.

“Time and time again their professional and personal behavior has resulted in them being removed from their SGC board positions only to be reappointed by President Porter.”

Redeye was first named to the SGC Board in March 2005. He was removed from his position on the SGC Board on September 4, 2009 in the aftermath of a sexual harassment complaint and investigation that was lodged against him.

President Porter pushed for and allowed Redeye to be reappointed to the SGC Board in October 2011. He currently serves as board secretary.

Gill was first named to the SGC Board in January 2008. He also was ousted as then SGC's Chairman on January 11, 2010 for six hostile work grievances that were filed against him.

Outside counsel Drinker Biddle & Reath was retained by the SGC Board Audit Committee and its written conclusions, in the aftermath of that investigation, determined that Gill acted outside his scope of authority, and that Gill acknowledged and admitted his harsh treatment, and his to attempt to coerce another SGC employee to file a false complaint against the original SGC employee who filed the grievances.

At that time, the SGC Board informed Gill and the Nation's Tribal Council that Gill should be removed from the board. President Porter, also a sitting member of the Seneca Nation Ethics Committee, dismissed outside counsel's investigation and conclusions allowing Gill to remain as a board member.

Tribal Council members were urged by Porter to reappoint Gill to serve through April 2012. Mele’s term also expired in April of this year.

The Seneca Nation’s Tribal Council has the only authority to appoint or reappoint SGC Board members. President Porter’s majority-controlled Tribal Council did not act on replacement of the two appointments when Mele and Gill’s terms expired allowing them to remain on the Board will full power and authority until such time as Council visits the issue.

“Both Jeff and Cochise should step down from their current positions at SGC until this investigation has been completed. I too was accused when SGC Chairman of being involved in the situation of the Lewiston land purchase deal. I stepped aside to allow the investigation to run its course and was ultimately absolved of any involvement by the US Attorney’s office. They should do the same.”

The Seneca Nation Tribal Counsel and then Senior Policy Advisor and General Counsel to the Nation Rob Porter oversaw the negotiations that ultimately led Porter to recommend the final Lewiston land purchase deal. The Tribal Council unanimously accepted Porter’s recommendation.

“I have a clear conscience to this day of what transpired over the land purchase. In any and all cases such as this, we should allow the judicial system to run its course. At the end of the day, however, I think people are smart enough to draw their own conclusions to understand what is really going on now,” said Snyder.