Fight For Justice

On the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community Reservation

June 1997

Read from buttom up

June 27, 1997

Dakota Guilty

Tribal chairman Fred Dakota was convicted today by a federal jury on charges he accepted bribes from a New Jersey slot machine dealer and then evaded taxes on the $127,000.00 in payments. The jury found Dakota innocent of conspiracy charges.

The U.S. district court jury of nine men and three women spent 12 hours in deliberation Wednesday & Thursday and announced their verdict this morning.

Polinsky was also convicted on all counts. Both men will be sentenced Sept. 30th 1997

Fred could receive up to 19 years in prison and over $300,000.00 in fines.

June 23, 1997

Rich Rossway yesterday sent out press releases announcing that the kickback charges against Fred Dakota had been dropped. This is a lie. Rossway later told press that he received his information from Tribal court Judge Brad Dakota and from tribal council man Gene Emery.

June 23, 1997

Fred Dakota's Trial Update

Polinsky denied paying bribes to Dakota, insisting that the money was part of a plan to create a telephone lottery game that might attract one million calls a week.

Polinsky wanted Dakota to promote the lottery because he was known as the "Grandfather of Indian gaming."

For nearly two hours of testimony Polinsky explained how he hoped to get the lottery started. Dakota was to receive a penny for each call to the 1-900 number and the money was an advance on his future earnings.

Cyril Kauchick , who negotiated with Boise Forte tribe, said it wasn't a good time for lottery of other games." Polinsky was "very excited, very high on the project, very enthusiastic," Kauchick told jurors. "I kept telling him in another month we could get to it but that went on and on."

Earlier, Judge bell scolded a prosecutor who asked Kauchick if he had ties to "East Coast Italians."

June 21, 1997

The Houghton Daily Mining Gazette was one of three Michigan dailies the Associated Press chose as newspaper of the year.

The Detroit Free Press and Detroit News round out the trio.

Managing Editor Cyndi Perkins accepted the AP award on The Gazette's behalf downstate last weekend.

Perkins said, the Michigan bureau head began and concluded his remarks by recognizing the small-town publication for its steady news coverage of the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community intertribal political conflict.

June 20, 1997

Fred Dakota's Trial Update

Prosecution rests it's case against Dakota

After presenting jurors with over 300 documents and testimony from 15 witness over nine days the prosecutors rested their case Friday June 20, 1997.

For the defense, former casino manager Walt Power testified Dakota never tried to pressure him to continue leasing slot machines from IGM. He said Dakota's orders were to maximize the tribe profits. Under cross examination he also said he wasn't even hired when IGM slot machines were installed in the casino

June 19, 1997

Fred Dakota's Trial Update

Six years passed and still Bonnie McKerchie of Vegas Kewadin casino recalls Fred Dakota suggesting he wanted a reward for installing slot machines at his casino.

"You can tell us today you remember it word for word?" defense attorney Mike Monaco asked.

"In that particular case, coming from that particular person, yes," said Bonnie.

"Do you remember any thing else from 1991?" Monaco asked "No just that," said Bonnie.

Bonnie said Dakota comments were made in 1991. At the time slot machines were generally illegal unless a tribe had a compact with the state. She and other casino operators had noticed that despite the ban, the Grand Travers Band had video poker machines at their casino. "Because nothing happened to them, we should all install them at the same time." Bonnie testified.

Dakota said "he was going to get something out of it," she said "he was going to get a percentage out of it."

Monaco tried to put doubt into the jurors minds by getting Bonnie to acknowledge that the conversation occurred at the noisy grand opening of the Chip-In casino.

Defense attorneys contend the money that Dakota received was actually a loan or an advance to Dakota to promote the 900 number lottery.

Prosecutors also summoned IRS agents to show that Dakota never reported the money as income.

Michael Erm, said the IRS in 1993 told Dakota that he had not filed tax returns for 1985 or from 1987 through 1991.

Another Agent, Donald Hinkle, said he would not consider the checks as advances because they were written for varying amounts. His testimony reinforced that the money represented a percentage of revenue from the slot machines.

Hinkle said Dakota received $11,227.00 in 1991, $59,906.00 in 1992 and $48,875.00 in 1993.

June 18, 1997

Fred Dakota's Trial Update

Thomas Casselman, Polinsky's attorney brought in documents he says bolsters defense arguments that his client paid Dakota $127,000.00 in a series of checks from 1991-93 to promote a "900 number" lottery.

Documents include a legal opinion, a patent application and an advertising agency proposal suggesting a Native American and singer Frank Sinatra as the lottery's spokesman, Casselman says.

But Spectrum never signed Sinatra and didn't get a compact to operate the lottery in Minnesota, Reed said.

When question why documents were left out by U.S. Attorney Mark Courtade, Reed said they weren't relevant to the case because the timing didn't coincide with payments to Dakota.

He said other than one document about the patent application with a 1993 date, all others were from 1989-1990. That was at least a year before IGM slot machines were installed in May of 1991 at the Ojibwa Casino.

Courtade introduced several letters Polinsky sent to Spectrum shareholders in 1989-90 telling them that the compact negotiations were nearly complete for the 1-900 lottery between Minn. officials and the Boise Forte tribe.

But there was no negotiations and the lottery was illegal, testified Mary Magnuson, a former Assistant U.S. Attorney in Minn.

From the documents, Reed concluded: "Mr Polinsky was lying to his shareholders."

Reed has testified that he didn't find any documents mentioning Dakota related to the lottery. He also said Dakota lied to him during an interview in 1995 about what he was receiving payments for, the amount of the payments and that he declared them as income on his federal tax returns.

June 17, 1997

Fred Dakota's Trial Update

Under cross examination, some of the key pieces of evidence presented by Reed were thrown into question by defense attorneys.

Thomas Casselman, Polinsky's attorney grilled Reed about a "900 number" lottery idea he says his client was paying Dakota to promote.

Reed testified that he found no evidence to indicate Dakota was being paid to tout such a venture or even if one existed during the years the tribal chairman received checks.

Defense attorneys do not dispute that Dakota received over $127,000.00 in a series of checks from 1991-1993 from Polinsky's Spectrum communications Inc.

Reed told jurors the scheme worked like this: The tribe made lease payments to IGM equal to 35 percent of slot machine revenue. IGM, in turn, gave 5 percent of that to Spectrum, which made payments to Dakota.

Casselman criticized Reed's choice of nearly 300 documents provided to each juror , asking why he didn't include records about the lottery deal, known as Fortune Bay Lottery.

Documents included legal opinions, patent applications and an advertising agency proposal suggesting a Native American and Frank Sinatra as the lottery's spokesmen in a nationwide ad campaign, Casselman said.

Cassleman also called into question Reed's analysis of notations Polinsky made on Dakota's checks. The notations generally read either "consulting fees" of FBL consulting".

Reed testified that the notations were essentially a cover for the kickbacks scheme and that Polinsky made similar notes on support checks to his ex-wife and business checks to his son, Gary.

Reed said checks began to filtering to Dakota in June 1991, two weeks after the slot machines arrived in Baraga, They stopped in December 1993, a month after the tribe reached a compact agreement with Michigan officials allowing them to operate slot and video poker machines.

June 16, 1997

Update of Fred Dakota's trial.

Kickbacks or promotional services? Those are explanations jurors have been given so far for why a paper trail links tribal Chairman Fred Dakota to $127,000 in small payments from a slot machine dealer.

Prosecutors say the small checks ranging from $530 to $8,250 could only be kickbacks. Defense attorneys say Dakota was paid advances to act as spokesman for a national Indian lottery, which never happened.

Tim Reed, a special agent with the, Department of Interior in St. Paul, Minn told jurors how he tracked checks and other documents seized by federal agents to link Dakota with conspirator Jerrold Polinsky.

Reed used his analysis of financial documents seized from Minneapolis based International Gaming Management Inc. and Polinsky's Atlantic City N.J. condominium to help prosecutors prepare charges against the men.

By the end of the week, prosecutors will have introduced nearly 300 documents they say prove Dakota took kickbacks.

At least one prosecution witness has testified that Dakota mentioned such a deal to him, while those who worked with Polinsky said the lottery idea was on the back burner at IGM in 1991.

The tribes attorney, Joseph O'Leary, said Dakota approached him in January 1991 for advice about obtaining shares and receiving part of the proceeds of a video lottery machine deal.

O'Leary said he advised Dakota he had to disclose the arrangement to the tribal council, Dakota never made a disclosure.

Defense attorneys contend it was these machines that Polinsky paid Dakota to promote. They were different from the 200 IGM slot machines leased to the tribes Ojibwa casino in Baraga.

Prosecutors allege that- Polinsky paid Dakota kickbacks on proceeds from slot machines installed there. Revenue was split with the tribe taking 65 percent and IGM receiving 35 percent.

IGM then paid Polinsky's Spectrum Communications 5 percent as a consulting fee.

The tribe paid IGM nearly $5 million between May 1991 and December 1993. Of that Spectrum received $255,123.

June 9, 1997

After more than a year the trial has started against Fred Dakota in Grand Rapids, MI.

June 8, 1997

In a letter to the Editor from Georgianna E.Emery, KBIC Member

I just read the KB Tribal Council's most recent paid advertisement "Erosion of Constitution . . .," by Charley Reese in the June 04, 1997 edition of the L'Anse Sentinel. Don't you find this just a little ironic that the council would pay for this? What are the differences between the government in the article and the KBIC Government? There are no differences. In retrospect of life on the reservation before, during and after the takeover, a more appropriate title for the ad would have been "Erosion of the KBIC Constitution . . . ."

The question "what do you do when you discover your own government no longer reflects or respects your values and deepest beliefs?" Well, you do everything in your power to correct the situation. Mr. Reese states "one of the more unpleasant experiences a human can have is to find himself in opposition to something as powerful and as ruthless as a government." If ever there was anybody that can attest to the previous statement, it would have to be the people of KBIC who have chosen to take a stand in honor of their beliefs. When a government takes or attempts to take away your voting rights, freedom of speech, religion, due process etc. (sound familiar), then it's time to fight and fight we will.

Fred Dakota and his council are constantly whining about his due process rights being violated. Well, how does it feel. Not the best feeling in the world, now is it. I am by no means agreeing that his rights are being violated, I'm simply asking how it feels when you believe your rights are being violated. He should be glad the court he is in doesn't practice the same laws of injustice the KB Tribal Court does. Furthermore, there are no conflicts of interest with the presiding judge in his case, i.e. the judge isn't riding around with a Free Fred bumper sticker on his vehicle. I wish we could say the same for certain tribal court judges. Oh, but there are no conflicts of interest in tribal court are there Mr. Gurski!?

In conclusion, I would like to reiterate that FFJ will not be broken, nor will the fight for our people's rights and I hope to see you on the road to justice (Grand Rapids). Miigwetch!

To read a brief summary of FFJ and it's begining read Tina Lam's Detorit Free Press article

Copyright 2001 by Rose Edwards. All Rights Reserved.