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Mohegan's chief of staff resigns suddenly

MOHEGAN NATION, Conn. -- When Thomas C. Acevedo abruptly resigned as the
Mohegan tribal council's chief of staff recently, it came as a big surprise
to everyone.

"We had no inkling he was going to resign," said Tribal Chairman Bruce "Two
Dogs" Bozsum.

But for Avecedo, a member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of
Montana, the decision to leave was rooted in last October's election when a
largely new tribal council was voted in.

"I don't want to be disingenuous to my former employer. Basically, I worked
for two previous tribal councils. A new tribal council was elected in
October. It's not unusual in these circumstances that personalities
sometimes don't always mesh," Acevedo said.

Avecedo said he kept his decision to resign to himself until the time was
right.

"When you talk about these things, you try to keep a low profile on them. I
had a great deal of responsibility to the staff, making sure morale stayed
high. Clearly, you don't let the staff know you make that decision until
you're ready to leave. I think that's the right way to deal with this,"
Acevedo said.

Acevedo, 58, handed in his letter of resignation during his chief of staff
report at the council's Jan. 26 meeting, Bozsum said.

"There's not much to say. From what he said at his closing speech, he's
looking for a change in his life. People are always looking for a change in
their lives," Bozsum said.

Asked if a personality conflict played into Acevedo's decision to leave,
Bozsum said, "I have no comment on that."

The council has not yet determined whether or how to fill the chief of
staff position, Bozsum said.

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"We're temporarily distributing Tom's work among the rest of the staff,"
Bozsum said.

Acevedo was hired in 1996 by former Chairman Roland J. Harris and worked
under the subsequent chairmanship of Mark Brown.

"I worked for the new council since October and never seemed to reach an
accord as to what they were seeking and what I wanted to accomplish after
working for 10 years for the tribe. I respect the fact they have the right
to employee whoever they want, and I have the right to work for a tribe
that wants my skill set," Acevedo said.

As chief of staff, Acevedo had managerial responsibility for the entire
tribal government, and reported directly to the tribal council. His
oversight included several operations within the Mohegan Sun Casino, such
as the gaming commission, public safety and surveillance. He also sat on
the tribe's executive management committee, a body that provides policy and
procedural directions to the tribal council.

Acevedo arrived shortly before the tribe opened Mohegan Sun, which has
become one of the most successful gaming operations in the world.

"I was very fortunate to have worked for the tribe for the past 10 years
and to be part of the success they've achieved," Acevedo said.

Prior to his job at Mohegan Sun, Acevedo was chief of staff for the
National Indian Gaming Commission, which approved the Mohegans' management
contract with Trading Cover Associates a year before he started working for
the tribe.

Some congressional members questioned the "revolving door" aspect of
Acevedo's decision to join the tribe so soon after leaving the commission,
but Acevedo said at the time that he was not involved in the commission's
contract approval.

Acevedo has worked for Indian tribes and issues since graduating from the
New Mexico School of Law. He has worked as an attorney at a Boulder, Colo.,
law firm, at the Interior Department, and for the Native American Rights
Fund.

"I'm probably going to do some more work in Indian country, providing legal
services and lobbying and consulting the tribes over the next several
years," Acevedo said.

Acevedo will remain on the East Coast for now, but will likely go back
West, he said.