Paskenta Nomlaki Indians Try to Resolve Tribal Dispute Peacefully

The members of the Paskenta Band of Nomlaki Indians emphatically demonstrated their support of their newly elected Tribal government this week.

On Wednesday, about 100 Tribal Members gathered at the entrance to the Tribe’s Rolling Hills Casino to show that an overwhelming majority of the Tribe supports recent General Council actions on membership issues and the replacement of four members of the former Tribal Council. They were also there to rebuff a threatened effort by the ousted Tribal Council members to take over the Casino.

On the following day, nearly 100 Tribe Members traveled by buses to Sacramento to demand that the Bureau of Indian Affairs recognize the new Tribal Council elected by the General Membership by a vote of 110-5. Chairman Andrew Freeman met with the BIA Superintendent to stress that he represents all of the Tribe Members and intends to carry out their will by supporting the leaders they have elected by 96% of the vote.

The dispute began when Tribal Members confirmed, through testimony and research of a highly respected genealogist, that members of the Pata/Crosby/Lohse family do not meet the requirements of the Tribe’s Constitution for Tribal Membership. On April 12, the General Council suspended members of the Pata/Crosby/Lohse family subject to their due process rights to establish their qualification for Tribal Membership.

The new Tribal Council, consisting of long-time Tribal Chairman Andrew Freeman and four new members elected on April 12 and confirmed on May 10, began investigating possible misuse of Tribal funds by the ousted Tribal leaders. Initial research of bank records and other documents reveal considerable evidence of possible misappropriation of funds. The Tribe has retained a forensic auditor to provide a definitive report.

The new Tribal Council has made every attempt to resolve the membership dispute by rational and peaceful means. The ousted leadership has responded with a cyber attack on the computer systems of the Casino and other Tribal businesses and threats of a forcible takeover of the Casino.

The trip to Sacramento follows another unsuccessful attempt this week by the ousted Tribal leaders to shut down the Casino, which is the Tribe’s primary source of economic development.

Reports and inspections by the National Indian Gaming Commission, the California Department of Justice and local law enforcement have been clear that no violence or other misconduct is occurring on the casino property. The Tehama County Sheriff’s Department is respecting the Tribe’s sovereignty.

“The more they lie, the more it shows how desperate they are,” said Chairman Andrew Freeman. “If they really respected the rule of law as they claim, then they would follow the law and respect the Constitutional acts of the Tribe that removed them from office. It is sad what people do when they get desperate, but it is clear that the suspended members are trying to disrupt business in hopes of derailing the investigation into their alleged embezzlement of millions of dollars from our tribal accounts.”

Here are the facts

  • The Casino IS open and safe. Rumors and statements to the contrary are untrue.
  • On April 12, when questions were raised by Tribal members about the use of tribal funds, Leslie Lohse, David Swearinger, and Geraldine Freeman abandoned their seats on the Tribal Council, by leaving a General Council meeting before the meeting was adjourned pursuant to the Tribe’s Constitution.
  • At the same April 12 meeting, Tribal members voted to elect Latisha Miller, Ambrosia Rico, and Andrew Alejandre to replace the individuals that had abandoned their positions.
  • On May 10, over 100 Tribal members attended another meeting to affirm the acts from April 12. At this meeting Natasha Magana was elected to the Tribal Council after Allen Swearinger failed to attend. The vote was 96% in favor.
  • On June 9, BIA Superintendent Troy Burdick issued a cease and desist order requiring the suspended members to end their attempt to block the casino entrance. In this letter, Burdick asked the Tribe to settle the dispute pursuant to its laws and procedures.
  • Tribal members followed this order by again obtaining the necessary signatures to remove the suspended members from the Tribal Council and presented them to Burdick.
  • The Casino remains a safe destination. While the suspended members have organized a protest outside, there is plenty of security and it remains a peaceful demonstration.
  • Keeping the doors open is important to the Rolling Hills Casino employees. The Casino employs over 500 team members, most of who work full time with health care benefits and 401k options. The Casino’s turnover is exceptionally low with over 100 original team members employed since 2002.
  • Keeping the doors open is also important to the community economically. Each year, over 730,000 guests visit Rolling Hills Casino, bringing with them tourist dollars that benefit the local economy.
  • The Casino and the Paskenta Band of Nomlaki Indians are strong community partners supporting local programs through generous grants and sponsorships. The Foundation donates over $600,000 to community organizations each year to benefit local health, safety and educational programs.

“What saddens me most is that the actions of the individuals who were suspended are not simply against our Tribal members, this affects the casino employees, who are like family to me,” said Chairman Freeman.

Among the most egregious violations of federal, state, and tribal laws uncovered by the investigation so far are:

$10 Million Spent on Private Jet Trips

The investigators found dozens of trips on the Tribe’s private jet from Chico to Sacramento, each one costing thousands of dollars and taking a few minutes to travel less than 90 miles. Additionally, the investigators compared the flight path of the jet to the schedule of the St. Louis Cardinals major league baseball team. The investigation shows that members of the Pata family, which include former Treasurer Leslie Lohse, allegedly used the Tribal jet to fly around the country to watch her son, Major League Baseball pitcher Kyle Lohse, play baseball.

$50,000 Reward for Stolen Jet

The jet remains missing and has been reported stolen with a $50,000 reward for its return. Once returned, the Tribal Council will immediately sell the jet with the proceeds going to support services for Tribal members.

Cyber-Attack

The suspended members admitted to organizing a cyber-attack in an attempt to destroy computer and financial records including the records that are the primary focus of the investigation. While the attempted attack was malicious and destructive, it was ultimately a failed attempt to shut down Rolling Hills Casino. In the end, the attack only worked to solidify support for the Tribal Council as it works to protect the best interests of casino employees, guests and tribal members.

$209,000 in Gold and Silver Purchases

The investigation also revealed over $209,000 in alleged purchases of gold and silver by former Paskenta Enterprises Chairman John Crosby. The checks were allegedly written from a Paskenta Enterprises account set up by John Crosby with only himself and Larry Lohse as the signatories. Paskenta Enterprises Corporation is the Tribe’s business development corporation that was established to benefit all Tribal members. The Paskenta Tribe has never authorized any investments in precious metals, and the gold remains unaccounted for.

Millions in Personal Checks for Mansion, Landscaping, Tennis Court, Swimming Pool and Outdoor Kitchen

Former Paskenta Enterprises Chairman John Crosby purchased a mansion and wrote hundreds of thousands of dollars in personal checks to each other from the Tribe’s business account. So far the personal checks total more than $500,000, which is on top of $838,000 for the purchase of a mansion and $600,000 in home improvement expenses including landscaping, a tennis court, pool construction and an outdoor kitchen for John Crosby.

$5 Million Tribal Personal Lines of Credit

Suspended members, including former Treasurer Leslie Lohse and former Paskenta Enterprises Chairman John Crosby, claim that the deceased former Chairman and Vice Chairman “approved” them having $5,000,000 personal lines of credit to withdraw funds at will from tribal bank accounts.

-from press release

Avatar
-from press release
Comment Policy: We welcome your comments, with some caveats: Please keep your comments positive and civilized. If your comment is critical, please make it constructive. If your comment is rude, we will delete it. If you are constantly negative or a general pest, troll, or hater, we will ban you from the site forever. The definition of terms is left solely up to us. Comments are disabled on articles older than 90 days. Thank you. Carry on.

14 Responses

  1. Avatar A. Brady says:

    Thank you for this information; I had not seem this level of coverage anywhere else.

    Contrary to the biblical saying we know that “the greedy shall inherit the earth,” unless we watch them like a hawk. I guess the tribe was too trusting with these greedy folks.

  2. Avatar Kimberly Freeman says:

    Good to be able to see that the public is able to read what we “Paskenta Nomlaki’s have been doing and what type of people we’re up against !!! We don’t promote violence or harming another person, as a Nomlaki tribal member I’m protecting my land, my family and the trying to preserve the future for our children, I have the heart of a true Nomlaki. We will not allow these people to disrespect our elder, mistreat tribal members by suspending members for up to 10 years! spend our money for lavish vacations, buying gold, while tribal families struggle to pay rent, some are forced to get apply for Social Services, food stamps, Medical, these crimes were being committed by Leslie Lohse,John Crosby,Ines Crosby Shame on you all !!!!

  3. Avatar George H Freeman says:

    I am a tribal elder and the Great Grandson of last leader of the Mountain House Paskenta Nomlaki Indians prior to the California version of Trail of tears when natives were rounded up in Central Valley and driven like cattle to the Round Valley Indian reservation from the 25,000 Nomlaki Reserve near Flourney which served as the staging area prior to the infamous trail of death for many Indian infants and elders in the mid 1860’s. My Great grand father was given the name George Freeman by California Pioneer John Freeman when he and other tribal members worked on Freeman’s ranch. Right before they began driving the Indians to Round Valley. My Great Grand father and two other Paskenta Nomlaki clans snuck off in the night and returned to a old Nomlaki village in the Yolla Bolla Mts. They stayed there for almost two years. Many died from exposure and starvation before returning to John Freeman’s ranch. Out of almost 175 souls who avoided the Trail of death and tears almost a third perished. John Freeman allowed them to stay on his ranch as a work force until the government issued them the 260 acres Paskenta Rancheria. When we restored the Paskenta Rancheria from the illegal federal termination in 1959. I served as the tribal administrator. We made our tribal roll from information gleaned from tribal elders and Bureau of Indian Affairs records. There were no Pata or Henthorn
    anyone recalled who were lineal descendants during this process. We were pretty much on way to full restoration when I resigned my position. Now I read where John Crosby did most of the work to restore the Paskenta Nomlaki tribe? That is a bold face lie. WE used the tribal Constitution which I authored to invoke the power of the General Council to oust the posers Crosby and Lohse people and their cronies the Pata. Andrew Freeman followed the will of the General Council and did not act by himself as Crosby and Lohse maintain. Another thing is the tribal council can’t close a General Council meeting and if the tribal council leaves they can be removed for abandoning their post
    to which they were elected by their peers. It is the ultimate show of disrespect to walk out on the General Council assembly. Now the three tribal members are committing sedition and are traitors to the true Paskenta Nomlaki people by siding with the non-tribal members Crosby and Lohse. They need to be banished from our tribe for their most nefarious and pernicious actions to disrupt the peace at the Rolling Hills casino.

  4. Avatar LovestoEat says:

    Thank you so much for the coverage of this situation. As another reader mentioned, I also haven’t read or seen any of this in any other local news source. Hopefully the issues mentioned will be peacefully and quickly resolved for the tribe.

  5. Avatar easily manipulated says:

    Author = “from press release”

  6. Avatar IsaYonah says:

    Good to see that there are truthful people committed to peacefully re-balancing the wrong-doing. Good to see this side of the story out there!

  7. Avatar Charlie Cole says:

    I like what “easily manipulated” pointed out. News articles are written by reporters, not by press releases. This whole thing just looks fishy to me.

    I been doing my own digging on this situation. I wished other people would start doing the same. Its a dam shame what that tribe is going through. Those people theyr trying to kick out are some good honest people. I’ve known some of them for years.

    I been down to that casino a few times since this mess. I used to love it down there. Now its like a dirty ghost town. I cant believe they let it go like that. Those guards are big city gangsters. I even heard some jackpots couldnt get payed out.

    What it actually looks like is those people at the casino are supposed to be out. Did anyone see that letter from the BIA that tells them to get out? What more do these people need? You can find it online somewhere.

    My daughter turned me on to a few sites. There’s that one facebook page “Paskenta Band of Nomlaki Indians – Government Organization” that seems to have a lot of threats and taunts. Not what I imagine when I think of a Government Organization.

    Then, theres that other facebook page “Leweqa Paskenta Nomlaki News” with actual documents and videos. Looks like those things sort of speak for themselves.

    I also found some good videos on youtube when I looked for Paskenta Nomlaki.

    That facility down there does a lot for our county. I know a lot of people that work down there. According to them a lot of the workers might strike. They said its like working for nazis.

    Dam shame.

  8. Avatar Alaina Aguilar says:

    We are a peaceful people…yet we will defend our people,our land, and the future of our children. The wrongs that have been done to our people that have no ancestral ties to our tribe are horrendous! These people sit and think they are untouchable due to the fact that they have paid off every thinkable politician in places that they knew once they were caught would owe them favors…and now they are calling in those favors left and right! And here we are fighting against the grain…but just like sand paper..the more you rub it it eventually becomes useless..and mark my word we will rub that paper until its gone!! Our elders are watching us younger members fight for what they been waiting to see for years..and we will not let them down!

    We not only fight for ourselves..we fight for our employees! We fight so they have a safe work environment..an environment were they enjoy working..an environment were they are more than an employee, they are family.

  9. Avatar Ya-nah says:

    Ousted=suspended. I think that this could be seen as something just as bad as disenrollment if suspended members don’t have what we consider Native American rights. One thing is clear, no one in this tribe wants to be suspended, and no one is really talking about the circumstances of our suspended members. I mentioned social services years ago and the old tribal council didn’t act. Now that they are suspended, I hope that they will eventually allow those services to come about rather than disrupting the economic source for funding such services.

  10. Avatar Really? says:

    It should be noted that this is a press release not a news story. You are simply spreading propaganda and is in no way being thorough. People who want the whole story should check out the SacBee. Sadly all local media is simply spreading the word of the Freeman clan and is not even attempting to be objective.

    Just my two cents…

    • Avatar Donna V says:

      @ Really…..Why are you hiding your name?
      Yes there are always 2 sides to a story and the ongoing investigation will bring out the truth. Why try to escalate things and possibly get someone hurt….why try to close the casino and have over 500 employees out of work…even temporarily? Let the truth come out at the end?

    • Dear Really, I wish I had the staff to cover this issue, but we don’t. We published this press release, and invite you and your group to submit a letter to the editor to tell, as you say, the whole story. (Note, we don’t publish anonymous letters to the editor.)

  11. Avatar oldenuff says:

    Yes really.

    Innocent people do not commit a cyber crime to cover their tracks. A few weeks of patience and all of the truth will be known. I’m local to this and have been to the casino several times in the last couple of weeks. It is peaceful and as fun as ever.
    From my own knowledge of the people of this tribe I believe the tribe and casino are in good hands and the truth will come out in a very transparent manner in the near future.
    Innocent people have nothing to worry about.

  12. Avatar Jane says:

    All tribal members need to look at the bigger picture. Stop fighting with each other over the poison of greed.
    Just Google “tribes disenrolling thousands of members” and read the information out there. You are destroying yourselves.
    Here are a couple of the articles you will see:

    http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2013/09/28/disenrollment-bad-bottom-line

    http://ndnnews.com/native-issues/tribal-disenrollment/