Former Seneca Nation gaming executive pleads in land case

The Seneca Hickory Stick Golf Course in Lewiston, New York. Photo from Facebook

A former gaming executive for the Seneca Nation of New York admitted that he took $338,000 from a fraudulent land deal.

Bergal Mitchell III, the former vice chairman of the Seneca Gaming Corporation, pleaded guilty to lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation about his role in the deal. He plans to return the $338,000 to the tribe as he awaits sentencing on October 7.

Seneca Gaming Corporation paid $2.1 million for 250 acres. But the sellers only received $1.2 million and federal authorities indicted Mitchell and they found out some of the unaccounted funds went to his family and friends.

"On September 10, 2008, Mitchell was interviewed by FBI agents who were investigating the land purchase," the U.S. Attorney's Office said in a press release. "During the interview, the defendant attempted to cover up his theft of the $338,000 by falsely telling the agents that he had no knowledge of a $248,000 wire transfer to an account belonging to his late half-brother. Mitchell also lied about securing a $125,000 cashier’s check from these proceeds which he used to purchase a home for his parents and personally delivered to the sellers of the house. In addition, the defendant lied about using $23,000 of these proceeds to make a loan to friend."

Timothy Toohey, an attorney, pleaded guilty in connection with the crime in January 2010. He received $202,000 out of the deal, the U.S. Attorney's Office said. He was sentenced to 33 months in federal prison in November 2013.

The resolution of the cases against Mitchell and Toohey leaves about $360,000 in unaccounted funds.

The land that was part of the transaction is now being used for the Seneca Hickory Stick Golf Course.

Get the Story:
Former Seneca leader Mitchell pleads guilty in Lewiston land case (The Buffalo News 6/23)
Former Seneca gaming official Bergal L. Mitchell III pleads guilty in golf course land case (The Niagara Gazette 6/23)

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