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Tribal chairman says charges coming after Oklahoma casino closures

Corruption and mismanagement of money are responsible for the closure of two casinos owned and operated by the Apache Nation of Oklahoma, tribe Chairman Donnie Cabaniss said.
by Andrew Knittle Modified: August 2, 2013 at 6:00 pm •  Published: August 1, 2013

“They could order a permanent closure, we don't know yet.”

The National Indian Gaming Commission is a federal agency charged with “maintaining the integrity of the Indian gaming industry,” according to a statement on the commission's website.

Political battle

Cabaniss said political rivals within the Apache Nation have been trying to have him recalled as chairman since not long after he took office.

He said business committee member Phillip “Bodie” Wetselline is leading a group opposing him.

In fact, Cabaniss said it was Wetselline who stopped a check to an electric company and led to the power being cut off Thursday at the tribe's headquarters in Anadarko.

“It's all about being a bully right now ... but I don't bully like that,” Cabaniss said. “They're going to find that out.”

Attempts to reach Wetselline and tribal administrator Ernest Redbird were not successful.

Cabaniss was sued earlier this year by the tribe, who was trying to have him recalled as chairman, court records show. The lawsuit filed against Cabaniss was dismissed in June.

Wetselline and Cabaniss also have been battling in the tribe's court system, but Cabaniss insists that he remains chairman.

“This has been going on for years, even before this committee came on,” Cabaniss said. “I'm just the only one who's addressed it and taken it this far.”

by Andrew Knittle
Investigative Reporter
Andrew Knittle has covered state water issues, tribal concerns and major criminal proceedings during his career as an Oklahoma journalist. He has won reporting awards from the state's Associated Press bureau and prides himself on finding a real...
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