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Leaf Home arrow The News arrow North East News arrow Ex-tribal treasurer spared prison for theft
Ex-tribal treasurer spared prison for theft
Written by Administrator   
Saturday, 01 March 2014
Ex-tribal treasurer spared prison for theft
By The Associated Press
Posted Feb. 26, 2014 @ 5:02 pm

NEW HAVEN — A judge spared the former treasurer for the tribe that owns and operates the Foxwoods Resort Casino from prison time for theft, saying Wednesday she was impressed by his reform before the investigation.    
U.S. District Court Judge Janet Bond Arterton sentenced Steven Thomas to three months of home confinement and ordered him to pay $17,7603 in restitution and perform 200 hours of community service. Thomas admitted misapplying $177,603 for his personal benefit by falsifying time cards in 2007 when he was assistant director of the tribe’s natural resources department.   

Thomas, 39, was a no-show employee and rarely reported to work at the time, prosecutors said. Thomas had asked to be spared prison, saying he reformed himself after the sudden wealth of his tribe led to a false sense of entitlement. Thomas helped the tribe make difficult financial decisions such as sharply reducing salaries, staff and benefits, including monthly payments to tribal elders, said his attorney, Richard Reeve.

Thomas told the judge he had been brash, complacent and entitled.

“One day the light bulb switched,” he said. “I took responsibility and in doing so I gained the confidence of my people to get into leadership.”

Making those financial decisions was extremely difficult, he said.

“I walked by blood relatives at a time when some very tough decisions had to be made that were earth shattering,” Thomas said.

Arterton said the case involved a large loss to the tribe. But she said Thomas reformed himself “before the hot breath of the investigation was on your neck, which is a very strong statement of the genuineness of that reform” and helped the tribe make changes to address its finances.

The case, which was closely watched by other tribes, sends a message that while tribal sovereignty is important, it does not provide a “cloak of impunity,” Arterton said.

Prosecutors didn’t object to a sentence below the advisory guidelines of 12 to 18 months.

Thomas’ brother, former tribal chairman Michael Thomas, is serving an 18-month prison sentence for embezzling about $100,000 to pay for limousine service trips for his mother’s medical appointments and his own personal expenses. Reeve drew distinctions with that case, noting the position of Michael Thomas, that he went to trial and Steven Thomas had undergone a “remarkable transformation” before the investigation.

Foxwoods has struggled in recent years to reverse a decline in gambling revenue stemming from a weak economic recovery and growing competition in neighboring states. Foxwoods, one of the largest casinos in the Western Hemisphere, opened in 1992 and is owned and operated by the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation.


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