SACRAMENTO, Calif. - A week after a May 26 law enforcement raid on the
Coyote Valley Reservation and tribal members it is still unclear if any
charges will be filed.
What is known is that the raid was ordered by the United State's Attorney's
office in San Francisco, who issued the search warrants, and was conducted
in several locales. The reservation, which is located about 120 miles north
of San Francisco, was raided at both the tribal offices and their Shodokai
Computers and other files were seized and as of June 1 no arrests have been
There were also additional raids at the residences of tribal members in
nearby Ukiah and another at a tribal member's residence in the Sacramento
suburbs some 160 miles distant.
In the initial confusion of the raid, it was widely rumored that the raid
was conducted because the tribe is operating a casino without a signed
compact with the state. Subsequent reports have contradicted these early
rumors amid allegations of financial mismanagement by several tribal
Witnesses at the scene claim that law enforcement officers used what they
described as "excessive force" and alleged that they handcuffed a
grandmother and detained children as young as 2 years old.
What is known is more than 100 law enforcement officials took part in the
raid. They included United States Marshals, officers from the state
Attorney General's Division of Gambling Control, Mendocino County Sheriffs
and Ukiah city police.
At one residence it was reported that there were 26 patrol cars.
It is rumored that the United States attorney in San Francisco was tipped
off by dissident tribal members that have been critical of the current
tribal council led by Chairwoman Priscilla Hunter.
Apparently, there was a large amount of money missing. Various reports have
placed it at nearly $1 million.
Hunter's son Michael currently serves on the Executive Committee of the
California Nations Indian Gaming Association in the capacity of secretary.
Both Chairwoman Hunter and her son have been implicated in press reports in
the alleged mismanagement of funds. Reports in the Santa Rosa Press
Democrat claim that Chairwoman Hunter spent over $5,000 at the Ritz Carlton
in Pasadena and Michael Hunter spent over $1,600 at the same hotel. The
paper also claims that tribal council member Darlene Crabtree spent over
$3,200 at the same hotel.
It should be noted that these costs were incurred in 2000. A few additional
relatively minor expenditures were also incurred on shopping trips to Saks
Fifth Avenue and an $81 trip to Disneyland that, like the Ritz Carlton
expenditures, were charged to casino credit cards.
The same report, corroborated by a source who declined to go on the record,
also claimed that dissidents were upset with what they saw as exorbitant
salaries taken in by the tribal council. The Press Democrat lists the
council as receiving $239,951 and spent an additional $137,150.
It should be noted that it is unclear as to whether or not any of these
expenditures were even the subject of the investigation or whether they
were legitimate expenses. The tribe is remaining tight-lipped, though this
is likely because of the ongoing investigation.
A tribal spokesperson, who did not want to go on the record, claimed that
these numbers were "taken out of context," but did not have the permission
of the tribal council to provide more detail.
Attorneys who work for the tribe were mainly concerned about the legality
of the manner in which the raid was carried out. Describing it as
"excessive" the main cause of concern was whether the federal government
was the lead agency of the raid or whether the state had done it.
The federal government has jurisdiction in such cases and the state can act
as help, however, there is questionable legality if the state takes the
reigns of such a seizure.
Noted attorney Harold Monteau blames the recent Supreme Court decision in
the case between Inyo County and the Bishop Paiute in another part of
California in which the local law enforcement raided the Bishop casino.
Monteau thinks that this has emboldened states to skirt tribal sovereignty
which is generally interpreted to supercede that of state, but not federal
A woman who said it was "not proper to identify" her as a source for
comments at the San Francisco United States Attorney's office said she
could not make a general comment, and maintained that "all materials
(relating to the Coyote Valley raid) are currently under seal." She did
confirm that an investigation was under way.
The tribe, which did issue an early press release on the matter accusing
law enforcement of excessive force, promised a revised press release.
However, tribal council members did not issue the release before press
time. A tribal spokeswoman said that the revised press release would
probably not speak to the allegations of financial mismanagement.