Michael Roberts: Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate's corruption

The following opinion by Michael J. Roberts appears in the current issue of the Native Sun News. All content © Native Sun News.


In 2009, Native Sun News reprinted a story written by Joseph O’Sullivan that told about my termination from my tribe, the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate, in order to cover up the corruption that was going on involving the council and chairman.

I have kept up the fight since then.

I recently litigated the tribe for breach of contract and requested a jury trial. I am submitting all of the documents to the court that I have accumulated since my termination as evidence to prove my case.

It is not about the money they still owe me; this is about getting the truth out to the people and hopefully vindicating my name from all of the slander over the past two years by the tribal council.

The following is a partial listing of the questionable actions taken by the administration of the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate against their own people over the past several years.

The recent Egghart Preliminary Report is an investigation into the Sisseton Wahpeton gaming commission, showing unauthorized activity on the part of the commission’s members. The final report will be much more detailed with numerous documents attached and should be presented to the tribal council any day now.

The preliminary report from the 2009 investigation was buried and hidden by the previous administration and gaming commission.

Among the tribal council, gaming commission and Dakota Magic Casino employees’ improprieties: contracts were never reviewed by legal counsel; contracts waived sovereign immunity; contracts were paid without being signed by both parties; contract overpayments, missing contracts, policy violations, contract violations by vendors; and employment contract, Bank Secrecy Act and IRS Title 31 violations by Dakota Magic’s general manager.

And further: the general manager bounced worthless checks and committed fraud; the boxing club sponsorship fund and the general manager’s personal gym received a total of $14,695; and severe abuse of the travel policy by casino staff and tribal council.

Finally: numerous sponsorships created with a so-called form letter, word for word; contract violations with Gerald German, who received $42,000 for advertising numerous additional Mixed Martial Arts fighter sponsorships and contracts which appear suspicious; Tribal Council Motion #9 on Oct. 2, 2007 ceased all sponsorships immediately, but the casino violated this motion by continuing sponsorships and trying to disguise them as donations, public relations, advertising and other expenditures; casino had written 237 bad checks and incurred bank service charges of $48,374 within ten months; casino event analysis incorrect by making the wrong comparison; sponsorship checks made out to individuals; cash payments made to individuals through cage for sponsorships; no records of whether sponsorships were ever performed; Player’s Club point abuse, which calls for further investigation; and cage cash payout slips not inventoried.

Tribal council, the executives and the attorneys have known about this activity since 2009. Instead of dealing with it, they attacked the individuals who brought it to their attention and knowingly allowed the activity to continue for two additional years. A loss in net income of over $10,000,000 has occurred in the same time frame.

There has been a collective behavior when it comes time for council representatives to take accountability for their actions or lack of actions. There is always a fall guy, someone to blame, with no personal accountability or omission of accountability on the part of tribal administration.

However, as it stands now, the tribal council is ultimately responsible for everything.

The law regarding the activity outlined in the Egghart Preliminary Report is already written and no sovereign immunity can hide an individual from criminal activity. The way it reads is that if you knowingly conceal criminal activity, then you are essentially breaking the law yourself.

(Michael J. Roberts, MBA, currently resides in Prior Lake, Minn. He has dedicated his blog site, SWOyate.info, to exposing corruption on the Lake Traverse reservation and can be contacted via the blog site.)

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