Tensions rise in Rolling Hills tribal dispute

May 16, 2014 7:40 PM

Operators at Rolling Hills Casino, including their CEO, have made new allegations against the tribal members they say they kicked out.

They say that they were the victims of a cyber attack, done by the same group of people that they claim embezzled more than two million dollars from the Paskenta Band of Nomlaki Indians.

“It’s critical level, it's that bad,” said retired Tehama County Sheriff Clay Parker.

Parker sees two factions in the tribal dispute at Rolling Hills Casino, calling them “Group B,” the ones that run the casino, and “Group A,” otherwise known as members of the Pata, Crosby, and Lohse families.

One week ago, members of “Group A” gave him a call.

“Members of the tribe came to me and said we need help,” Parker said.

A day later, he said he was sworn in as tribal police chief by that group.

But Parker said he represents both sides, even though he says “Group B” members at the casino have not returned his calls.

“I’m not on a side,” Parker said. “I'm representing the whole tribe. We need to get this thing back together.”

“He’s really just a hired spokesman for a group that's no longer a part of the tribe,” Rolling Hills CEO Bruce Thomas said.

“I’m upset because wrong was committed on a group of people,” Parker said. “Because it is a sovereign nation, it needs to be handled internally through a tribal court, through a tribal police department…”

He said there was wrong committed, because he said there is no evidence of embezzlement against “Group A.”

He checked with various agencies to see if any had active investigations into such allegations.

“Each and every one of them said they gave us some information, but none of it justified opening a case…” Parker said.

And he added, the disenrollment of “Group A” members was done unconstitutionally, said Rolling Hills CEO Bruce Thomas.

“Tribes are sovereign governments, so they have a right to determine for themselves who are their members and who are their leaders,” Thomas said.

But Parker, who said he met with the Governor's Office, the National Indian Gaming Commission, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs yesterday, said it's the BIA that needs to come in and help determine who the correct tribal council is.

In the meantime, Parker said he'll get out of this thing if it turns ugly.

“Among the law enforcement community, they are aware that there had been plans drawn up to take the casino back,” Parker said.

“I personally heard it where the former council people were trying to solicit people to push their way in here and take over, and we're not going to allow that to happen,” Thomas said.

And Thomas said that's the reason for a heavy armed guard presence at the casino: to keep Rolling Hills open, operating, and safe.

But Parker believes there is currently a severe threat to public safety and tensions are at a breaking point.

Lt. David Greer of the Tehama County Sheriff's Office said while his office does have authority over criminal cases at the casino, they do not yet have enough information to determine who has authority in the tribe. Because of that, they are not actively conducting an investigation.


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