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Paskenta Tribal Council Working Toward Peace and Order

The Paskenta Band of Nomlaki Indians’ Tribal Council is advocating for peace and dialogue as it works to remedy an internal dispute that has nearly splintered the tribe and led to severe losses to tribal business.

The Paskenta tribe has always been strong and well-managed, with business successes that have made the tribe’s Rolling Hills Casino a model for casino development.  However, a sudden attempt to overthrow the Paskenta government five weeks ago is still being untangled, with state and federal authorities watching the unrest with the hope that the tribe will resolve issues internally.   The attempted governmental overthrow was initiated by non-Indian casino management and a lawyer whose name has been synonymous with the similar unrest that has plagued the Picayune Rancheria of Chukchansi Indians and other tribes in California.  

Meanwhile, the duly elected Tribal Council continues to meet and work toward reunification, calling for mediation and dialogue.  However the splinter group, being guided by the non-Indian management, has refused to talk, pulling out of mediation and dismissing efforts for unity.

Utilizing press releases to make unfounded allegations of embezzlement, fraud and other crimes, accusations have included falsely stating that the District Attorney’s office and the Tehama Sheriff’s Department are investigating the Henthorn/Pata/Lohse family, a large, high-profile family within the tribe.  The press releases are inaccurate and all claims related to misdeeds are false.  There is no investigation of the family being conducted by any law enforcement or prosecutorial office.  Authorities have refused to validate these false allegations, noting they could not identify a victim, much less any crime.

At the Paskenta Annual General Council Meeting on April 12, Chairman Andrew Freeman, departed from the agenda and announced that Tribal members from the Henthorn/Pata/Lohse family were not direct descendants of Paskenta ancestors and attempted to disenroll them from the tribe.  As he did this, guards swarmed the meeting room.

Fearing for the safety of the tribal members in attendance, the Tribal Council adjourned the meeting and left the room, encouraging other tribal members to do the same.  That meeting and the actions that followed have been the flashpoint for Paskenta’s leadership dispute.

After the meeting adjourned, Chairman Freeman, who had been provided inaccurate financial information by a casino manager, attempted to banish Tribal members from the Rancheria and appoint a new Tribal Council.  However, his actions were outside the process laid out in the Paskenta Constitution.

Non-Indian casino management and their outside legal counsel also hired and deputized armed guards to stand watch at all Tribal businesses, including the Rolling Hills Casino, golf course and the Tribal health clinics.  The armed presence has precluded the Tribal Council from maintaining control of the tribe’s assets; including the casino, in violation of IGRA.

Three days after the meeting, on April 15, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) confirmed in a letter that the only recognized and duly elected members of the Tribal Council were Chairman Andrew Freeman, Vice Chairman David Swearinger, Treasurer Leslie Lohse, Secretary Geraldine Freeman and Member-at-Large Allen Swearinger.

The National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) sent a similar letter on April 21, which also affirmed the Tribal Council.  Douglas Hatfield, Director of Compliance for the NIGC, expressed in the letter federal concern that the Rolling Hills Casino “is not being conducted by the Band—that is, by the governmental authority recognized by the Secretary of the Interior—or by an entity licensed by the tribal government pursuant to NIGC regulations.”

On May 2, a Superior Court Judge denied an effort to obtain a temporary restraining order against Leslie Lohse and other family members.  The complaint sought to ban the Henthorn/Pata/Lohse family from the Rancheria and all tribal properties, utilizing unsubstantiated claims of potential violence and embezzlement as the basis.

“This was a legal maneuver, pure and simple.  They wanted the court to validate the unlawful actions taken against some of our tribal members, trying to exclude some of our families from all aspects of tribal activities,” said Paskenta Vice Chairman Swearinger.  “The allegations were ridiculous, and ultimately the judge shut it down.”

The duly elected Tribal Council enacted resolutions to establish a Tribal Court and Tribal Police Department, as part of the effort to restore peace and order within the Rancheria.  The Tribal Council hired former Tehama County Sheriff Clay Parker as the new Paskenta Police Chief and appointed Judge Leona Colegrove to the post of Chief Judge of the Paskenta Tribal Court.  The Tribal Council has also taken action to secure Tribal assets until a full audit can be conducted.

On May 9, the Paskenta Chairman post was vacated after Andrew Freeman missed three consecutive regular meetings of the federally recognized and duly elected Tribal Council, per the Tribal Constitution.  To protect the Paskenta assets, the Tribal Council filed a lawsuit in Tribal Court to keep the former chairman, various non-Indian casino managers, unauthorized armed guards and others from transacting business within the Tribe or interfering with Tribal governance matters.  That same day, Tribal Council began temporary, remote shutdowns of the casino’s machine games to comply with the NIGC's letter. 

By May 16, the Tribal Gaming Commission suspended the casino’s facility license and the Tribal Council issued a closure notice for the casino, citing various violations of federal and tribal law, and attempting to address the NIGC’s concerns from the April 21 letter.

“Our mission from the get-go was to continue operations as peacefully as possible,” Vice Chairman Swearinger said. “Unfortunately, our former chairman has responded with more guards and more guns. What we are seeking is a dialogue and to secure the safety of thesafety of the employees, patrons and tribal members working at the casino.  The infrastructure that we’re putting in place makes certain our government has the ability to not only enact, but enforce, Tribal laws.”

Currently, the casino has armed guards visibly stationed outside and inside the facility.  The Tribal Council, new Tribal Police Chief, and former FBI agent-investigators hired by the Council to investigate “all allegations of illegal behavior in connection with the Rolling Hills Casino” have been excluded from the casino.   

“Frankly, this is simply more evidence that this leadership dispute needs to be put to rest, with the duly elected Tribal Council allowed to take our rightful position on the tribal grounds so that we can move tribal business forward,” said Vice Chairman Swearinger.

Today, the Tribal Council, as it was defined on April 11 prior to the dispute, is the only entity that has undergone a legal vote of the tribe, and is validated by the NIGC and BIA.

“The rest is really just misinformation,” said Clay Parker, Paskenta’s Police Chief.  “This NIGC and BIA validation is a very important distinction, because as we’re working to ensure this tribe remains one, we also need to ensure the tribe is able to maintain its casino, which is what provides Paskenta’s funding and resources.  If Paskenta loses its casino because it is being run illegally and the tribe is out of compliance with federal regulations, that’s a problem.  So, there needs to be a starting point and I believe this is it.  From here, we can begin to unpack what we need to do to provide resolution to the internal questions of leadership.”

As for the disenrollment issue, the Henthorn/Pata/Lohse family traces its lineage through Ida Louella Henthorn Pata, who was the daughter of Myrtle and Ben Henthorn.  This was certified by Ben himself in 1929, and witnessed through sworn affidavit by lifelong friends William Freeman Sr., John Jordon, and Nancy Jordon.

Ida Louella was raised in the town of Paskenta and is remembered as a grade school friend of John Bedford, recognized historian of the Paskenta area.  Census records verify that Ben Henthorn was married to Myrtle at the time of Ida Louella’s birth on December 24, 1918.  Also census records verify Ben Henthorn’s Paskenta Nomlaki heritage through his mother, Susie Beam.  In 1995, these aspects of the Henthorn/Pata/Lohse heritage were documented and certified by BIA Acting Superintendent Kayla M. Danks, consistent with the requirements of membership within the Tribal Constitution.

In addition, the Paskenta Tribal Membership Act established by then Chairman Everett Freeman and Carlino Swearinger, makes it clear that tribal members on the roles as of June 2002 are Tribal Members. The Membership Act does not change the criteria for eligibility; it just closes the rolls to set the base roll which all future members will descend from.

“Despite the unfounded assaults on our character and slanderous allegations by non-Tribal members, the Tribal Council – as recognized by federal authorities – is still intact,” said Treasurer Leslie Lohse. “We meet regularly to ensure the business entities and the people of Paskenta are secure and safe.  However, the challenge is trying to overcome the damage that has been done by these allegations, made by these employees who are not even members of the Paskenta tribe.  These accusations were strategic.  They are false, but they’ve put us in a position where we have work to do to bring unity back to our tribe.”

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Paskenta Tribe

8/21/2019

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12/1/2018

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11/29/2018

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11/10/2018

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9/14/2018

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8/21/2018

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7/15/2018

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7/12/2018

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7/11/2018

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7/10/2018

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2/26/2018

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11/28/2017

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8/5/2017

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7/27/2017

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4/23/2017

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2/18/2017

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2/13/2017

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1/17/2017

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1/14/2017

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1/12/2017

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1/11/2017

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1/10/2017

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1/9/2017

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1/6/2017

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1/5/2017

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12/28/2016

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12/12/2016

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10/21/2016

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10/6/2016

article Paskenta tribe elects new members
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9/27/2016

article Ex-Tribe Leaders Knock Judgment Bid In Embezzlement Row [sub req]
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9/1/2016

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8/28/2016

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6/22/2016

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4/21/2016

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2/16/2016

article Tribal Leader, Advisers Want Out Of Embezzlement Row [sub req]
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2/11/2016

article Tribe donates to fire station
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2/6/2016

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1/9/2016

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10/15/2015

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10/10/2015

article The Paskenta Band of Nomlaki Indians plan to build community center
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8/17/2015

article Court rules casino dispute is not internal tribal matter
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article Fight Over Paskenta Tribal Funds Stays in Federal Court
(California) -- U.S. District Judge Garland Burrell Jr. denied a dismissal motion, ruling that the court has jurisdiction over the tribe's Racketeer Influenced and...

7/15/2015

article Umpqua fights lawsuit over alleged fraud by Calif. tribal leaders
(California) -- Lawyers for Umpqua Bank have urged a court to dismiss a lawsuit accusing it of helping former leaders of California's Paskenta tribe allegedly...

3/12/2015

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article Tribe Says Embezzlers Took Millions
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3/11/2015

article California tribe accused of squandering casino's millions
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3/10/2015

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article Tehama County tribe files federal suit against former officials
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9/16/2014

article Election ends Paskenta dispute after members agree to recognize results
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9/14/2014

article Paskenta tribe votes to keep new leadership
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9/13/2014

article Embattled Northern California tribe elects four members to tribal council
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9/6/2014

article Paskenta Band of Nomlaki Indians audit alleges millions in mismanagement
(California) -- A financial audit report for the Paskenta Band of Nomlaki Indians has left one faction of the tribe's battling leadership in a very bad light.

9/4/2014

article Audit alleges mismanagement of Paskenta tribal funds
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9/2/2014

article Audit finds Corning tribe mismanaged millions in casino funds
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7/10/2014

article California tribe agrees to election to end dispute
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7/9/2014

article Judge: Keeps guns away from Rolling Hills Casino
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7/8/2014

article California tribe agrees to election to end dispute
(California) -- Rival factions within a Native American tribe fighting over a Northern California casino and other assets have agreed to a binding general election.
article Paskenta Band of Nomlaki Indians Reaches Agreement to Settle Leadership Dispute
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article Tribal dispute on hold until September
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7/7/2014

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7/2/2014

article State seeks to keep guns away from Rolling Hills Casino
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7/1/2014

article Injunction sought in casino dispute
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6/24/2014

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6/23/2014

article Attorney General Sues to Halt Armed Inter-Tribal Warfare over Northern California Casino
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article Grocery bags full of cash, a missing jet and the armed fight for a Native American casino
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article Paskenta Nomlaki Indians Try to Resolve Tribal Dispute Peacefully
(California) -- The members of the Paskenta Band of Nomlaki Indians emphatically demonstrated their support of their newly elected Tribal government this week.

6/22/2014

article Federal Judge Bars Indians From Carrying Guns at Indian Casino
(California) -- Federal District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller has "imposed a temporary restraining order that prohibits disputing factions of the Paskenta Band of...

6/21/2014

article Paskenta tribal factions under restraining order
(California) -- A federal judge has stepped into the Paskenta Band of the Nomlaki Indian Tribe battle granting a motion for a temporary restraining order requested by...

6/20/2014

article Kiley Willard: Observations on tribal split
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article Tribal Dispute Prompts Judge to Ban Casino Guns
(California) -- A federal judge has banned guns from a Native American casino in Northern California that is at the center of an escalating tribal dispute, citing a...

6/19/2014

article Federal judge bans firearms from casino, tribal lands in Paskenta Nomlaki fight
(California) -- A federal judge Wednesday granted the state of California's request for a temporary restraining order banning firearms at the Rolling Hills Casino in...
article Tense, Armed Standoff at Indian Casino
(California) -- A rivalry among "armed tribal factions" for casino profits in Northern California has become an "imminent threat" to the public and...
article Tribal dispute prompts judge to temporarily ban firearms at Rolling Hills Casino
(California) -- Citing a potential threat to public safety, a federal judge has imposed a temporary restraining order on the Paskenta Band of Nomlaki Indians prohibiting...
article Willard: Observations on tribal split
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6/18/2014

press release Court Issues TRO, Creating a Mediation Timeframe
(California) -- In an effort to pave the way for mediation without threat of violence, a Federal Judge issued a Temporary Restraining Order today, preventing anyone...
article Federal judge issues restraining order in tribal dispute
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article Sides react to state lawsuit against Paskenta tribe
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article State asks courts to grant restraining orders in Rolling Hills dispute
(California) -- The California Attorney General's Office asked the federal court system Tuesday to grant a temporary restraining order and other protection orders in...
article The cost to keeping the peace at Rolling Hills Casino
(California) -- It’s a hefty bill for the Tehama County Sheriff's Office handling the heated tribal dispute at the Rolling Hills Casino in Corning.

6/17/2014

article 'Tribal police' withdraw from standoff with Rolling Hills Casino security
(California) -- The armed, uniformed "Tribal Police" force that attempted to enter Rolling Hills Casino here early in the morning June 9 and occupied positions...
article State files suit against tribal factions
(California) -- The state of California sued the Paskenta Band of Nomlaki Indians on Tuesday in the U.S. District Court in Sacramento, as the two warring factions of the...
article State sues Paskenta Nomlaki, seeking retaining orders; cites threat to health and safety
(California) -- The California Attorney General's Office asked the federal court system Tuesday to grant a temporary restraining order and other protection orders in...

6/16/2014

article Paskenta Band funds were used to buy gold and purchase a jet
(California) -- A $3 million jet and more than 162 ounces of gold are at the center of a simmering dispute within the Paskenta Band of Nomlaki Indians in California....
article Paskenta Nomlaki Indians Try to Resolve Tribal Dispute Peacefully
(California) -- The members of the Paskenta Band of Paskenta Indians emphatically demonstrated their support of their newly elected Tribal government this week.

6/15/2014

article Northern California tribe splits into armed camps over casino profits
(California) -- The Rolling Hills Casino, opened in 2002, has transformed the Paskenta Band of Nomlaki Indians into a wealthy nation. Every adult member of the Tehama...

6/13/2014

article Epic Paskenta Dispute Continues, Despite BIA Cease and Desist Letter
(California) -- A nine-week leadership and disenrollment fight in the Paskenta Band of Nomlaki Indians of California that threatened to spiral out of control into...

6/12/2014

article Tribal members petition Bureau of Indian Affairs over Tribal Council makeup
(California) -- Around 120 members of the Paskenta band of Nomlaki Indians, led by Chairman Andrew Freeman, traveled by bus Thursday to deliver petitions to Central...

6/11/2014

article Fed recognize ousted members of Tribal Council in casino dispute
(California) -- The Bureau of Indian Affairs issued a letter late Monday recognizing four ousted Tribal Council members as legitimate members of the council governing...
article Tribal conflict escalates as groups try to shut down casino
(California) -- As patrons of Rolling Hills Casino entered casino property on Monday, they were met by two opposing sets of hired armed security, Tehama County Sheriff...

6/10/2014

article Northern California tribe in tense dispute
(California) -- Authorities were back Tuesday at a Native American casino in Northern California that’s at the center of an ongoing tense tribal dispute.
article Tribal tensions escalate in Rolling Hills dispute
(California) -- Ousted tribal members used hired police Monday to try and shut down Rolling Hills Casino in Corning and Tehama County sheriff's deputies were brought...
press release Paskenta Tribal Council Recognized As Tribe’s Governing Body
(California) -- After a nine-week leadership dispute, late Monday, June 9th, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) recognized the duly elected Tribal Council of the...

6/9/2014

article Ousted tribal members attempt to shut casino by force
(California) -- Uniformed and armed members of the Paskenta "Tribal Police" took up positions around Rolling Hills Casino parking lots here around 6 a.m....
article Protestors gather outside Rolling Hills Casino
(California) -- Tehama County Deputies responded to the Rolling Hills Casino in Corning Monday to monitor a protest. The casino and resort is run by the Paskenta band of...
article Tribal conflict escalates, casino shutdown attempted
(California) -- As patrons of Rolling Hills Casino entered casino property on Monday, they were met by two opposing sets of hired armed security, Tehama County Sheriff...
article Tribal tensions erupt in Rolling Hills Casino protest
(California) -- A dozen Tehama County sheriff’s deputies have been stationed outside the Rolling Hills Casino in Corning after a dispute between the casino and a...
press release Paskenta Tribal Council Works to Physically Shut Rolling Hills Casino
(California) -- On Monday, June 9th at 6 am, the Paskenta Tribal Council began physically closing the Rolling Hills Casino.  It will remain closed until Tribal...

6/7/2014

article Parker resigns as police chief of feuding casino tribe
(California) -- Former Tehama County Sheriff Clay Parker has turned in his resignation as police chief for the Paskenta Band of Nomlaki Indians. He was hired to serve in...

6/6/2014

article Clay Parker resigns as tribal police chief
(California) -- Former Tehama County Sheriff Clay Parker resigned from his position as police chief for the Paskenta Band of Nomlaki Indians, it was announced Friday.

6/5/2014

article Tribal dispute finds way to Red Bluff City Council Chamber
(California) -- The tribal dispute within the Paskenta Band of Nomlaki Indians found its way Tuesday to the Red Bluff City Council Chamber.

5/28/2014

press release Open Letter In Response To Mean-Spirited Accusations Made By Paskenta Faction
(California) -- Rosette, LLP represents the Paskenta Band of Nomlaki Indians (“Tribe”) located in California, which operates the Rolling Hills Casino. ...

5/27/2014

article Tribe's police chief says federal, state laws violated at Corning casino
(California) -- The police chief hired by ousted Tribal Council members of the Paskenta Band of Nomlaki Indians alleges that federal and state laws are being broken at...
press release Investigation Reveals Current Casino Operators Breaking State and Federal Laws at Rolling Hills Casino
(California) -- An investigation by former FBI investigators hired to review current business and regulatory practices at the Rolling Hills Casino have uncovered...

5/22/2014

article Paskenta tribal dispute goes cyber
(California) -- The ongoing dispute within the Paskenta Band of Nomlaki Indians has seen allegations of embezzlement, thefts and falsifying of records, and most recently...
press release Paskenta Band of Nomlaki Indians Investigation Alleges $10 Million in Personal Private Jet Trips by Pata Family and Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars in Purchases of Gold by Former Chairman of Paskenta Enterprises
(California) -- Following recent allegations that former Paskenta Enterprises Chairman John Crosby and members of the Pata family purchased a mansion and wrote hundreds...

5/21/2014

press release Paskenta Tribal Council Working Toward Peace and Order
(California) -- The Paskenta Band of Nomlaki Indians’ Tribal Council is advocating for peace and dialogue as it works to remedy an internal dispute that has nearly...

5/19/2014

article Ex-sheriff says no one looking into Paskenta Band theft claims
(California) -- Theft allegations are behind a leadership and disenrollment dispute within the Paskenta Band of Nomlaki Indians in California. But a former sheriff who...

5/16/2014

article Tensions rise in Rolling Hills tribal dispute
(California) -- Operators at Rolling Hills Casino, including their CEO, have made new allegations against the tribal members they say they kicked out.

5/13/2014

article Former Sheriff Clay Parker hired as tribal police chief
(California) -- The group that has claimed it is the "duly elected" Tribal Council of the Paskenta Band of Nomlaki Indians announced Tuesday that it had hired...
article Paskenta tribal battle continues, escalates
(California) -- The civil war being fought within the Paskenta Band of Nomlaki Indians appears to be escalating as the two sides battle for governance and possession of...

5/9/2014

article Tribal dispute leads to claim that operations at Rolling Hills Casino has ceased
(California) -- A group that believes it is the duly elected governing body of the tribe that owns Rolling Hills Casino claimed Friday that casino operations have "...
press release Paskenta Tribal Council Temporarily Ceases Casino Operations
(California) -- To protect the Paskenta Band of Nomlaki Indians’ assets, the duly elected Tribal Council temporarily ceased operations at the Rolling Hills Casino...

5/8/2014

press release Paskenta Gaming Commission Revokes Former Commission Member's Gaming License
(California) -- The Paskenta Gaming Commission announced today the decision to revoke former Gaming Commission member Juan "Jon" Pata's gaming license...

5/6/2014

article Henthorne family member speaks out against Pata family
(California) -- A member of the Henthorne family, a family whose name was listed as “suspended” by the Paskenta Band of Nomlaki Indians, is expressing relief...
article Tribe shuns members over lineage dispute, missing $1 million
(California) -- For several weeks, armed hired security has manned the entrance doors at the Paskenta Band of Nomlaki Indian Tribe-owned Rolling Hills Casino as the...

5/3/2014

article Restraining order sought against members of Paskenta tribe denied, tribal members say
(California) -- A temporary restraining order sought against members of the Paskenta Band of Nomlaki Indians was denied Friday, according to a news release issued by...

5/2/2014

article Paskenta tribe shuns members, investigates missing funds
(California) -- For several weeks armed, hired security has manned the entrance doors at the Paskenta Band of Nomlaki Indian Tribe-owned Rolling Hills Casino as the...
article Leaders of Paskenta Band raise questions about chair's actions
(California) -- Leaders of the Paskenta Band of Nomlaki Indians in California are trying to clear up an internal dispute before it gets messier. On April 21, the tribe...

5/1/2014

article Tehama County officials probe alleged theft of $1M of tribal funds
(California) -- The tribe that owns Rolling Hills Casino appears to be going through a leadership crisis on the heels of an allegation that some of its members embezzled...
article Tribal troubles continue for Corning casino owners
(California) -- Troubles continue for the tribe who owns Rolling Hills Casino along I-5 in Corning. Two sides have formed in the Paskenta band of the Nomlaki Indians...
article Authorities investigating suspected theft of $1M in North State tribal funds
(California) -- State and federal officials are investigating the alleged theft and misappropriation of more than $1 million of tribal funds by suspended members of the...

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