Chukchansi Casino Closed by Judges Order, Putting 1,300 People out of Work
1,300 employees of the Chukchansi Gold Resort and Casino are without a job, after a California judge closed the casino indefinitely. The casino closure was recommended by law enforcement officials and local political leaders, after an armed standoff in the Chukchansi casino.
Details are still emerging about the incident, but it appears that two factions of the Chukchansi tribe seized territory inside the casino last Thursday and Friday. This developed into a armed stand-off between the factions, while gamblers were still inside the premises. Eventually, a scuffle ensued and patrons had to flee the casino’s gaming floor, with many of them leaving game chips on the tables.
Sheriff’s Deputies Ended the Showdown
To end the showdown, deputies from the Madera County Sheriff’s Department had to intervene. Sheriff John Anderson says trouble had been escalating over the past several months. He told reporters that he and his men had tried to defuse the situation on several occasions, but the two sides were unable to come to a compromise. When their dispute turned violent, that’s when the sheriff and his men had to intervene.
The Madera County District Attorney’s Office has a similar story to tell. Madera County District Attorney Michael Keitz told the ABC News, “We have been interested in the affairs of the Chukchansi tribe for a long time. We are well aware of the disputes amongst the tribal members. It is not our duty here to get involved in the disputes between the tribal members. It is our duty to enforce the laws where there is a violation of the laws.”
How the Dispute Began
In August 2014, the tribe split into two factions. One group moved headquarters out of the casino, after their attempts to force out the current leadership failed. This faction, led by Tex McDonald, said the leadership of the Chukchansi Casino would not submit to routine audits, causing many tribe members to wonder if some some of misconduct or crime was taking place.
For two months, the splinter faction called for the casino management to open the books. Meanwhile, an October 31 deadline was approaching. The casino was already behind schedule on federal audits. If the October 31 deadline passed, the casino could lose its gaming license.
That appears to have been the motivation for the outside faction to try to take control of a part of the casino. Tex McDonald and men were trying to find the records that would implicate the leadership of the casino of wrongdoing, while allowing the federal audit to take place in a timely fashion. That moved backfired, though.
Charges Filed on 15 People
In a later update of the Chukchansi Gold Resort and Casino standoff, authorities announced on October 31 that charges have been filed against 15 people involved in the “scuffle” which led to the closing of the casino.
According to the Madera County District Attorney’s Office, the fifteen people were involved in what is being called a “violent takeover” of the casino. The charges range from kidnapping, assault and battery, and false imprisonment. The district attorney is accusing the 15 people iwht kidnapping and falsely imprisoning security guards at the Chukchansi Casino, which is how they came to control one part of the casino.
In the wake of the October 9 incident, videos have emerged which showed people being manhandled, handcuffed, and detained. The videos looked like law enforcement officials arresting unruly criminals, except the men doing the arresting had no authority to take the actions they did. In fact, the security guards being detained appear to have been in the right–in the eyes of the law.
Tex McDonald Faction Emerges as Aggressors
That is how the district attorney is looking at the matter, at least. After viewing security video of the incident, authorities are blaming the tribal faction led by Tex McDonald for the confrontation. Video shows Tex McDonald’s followers injuring security staff members. Security guards at the casino claim that bones were broken, in some instances.
Fourteen of the men face up to 6 felonies apiece, including Tex McDonald himself. These men had bail set at between $800,000 and $1 million apiece. One of the men involved is charged with one felony count. He is charged with assualt with a stun gun.
The faction of the tribe affiliated with Tex McDonald says that the men charged are either reservation police officers or leaders of the tribe. Their statement also says they put no one in harm and that they followed standard procedure while inside the casino. The fifteen men say they are cooperating with the DA’s office, in order to clear their names.