A local television station is linking the unusual July 12 FBI raid of two Mississippi Choctaw casinos to dealings between chief Miko Beasley Denson and a gaming consultant in Atlanta, Georgia.
Meanwhile, a Jackson, Mississippi-based newspaper, the Clarion-Ledger, has reported that the investigation may pertain to election fraud.
According to WLBT in Jackson, Mississippi, the raid was “likely” related to Denson and Mercury Gaming of Atlanta.
A website report by the station’s Cheryl Lassiter says that sources told her Denson had been paying Mercury Gaming chief executive Doug Pattison $60,000 per month, a amount that increased to $250,000 in February. Lassiter also wrote that the tribal council was unaware of these payouts.
Some 40 FBI agents participated in the raid of the Golden Moon and Silver Star casinos in Choctaw near Philadelphia, Mississippi, the station reported, and removed papers and computer hard drives.
According to the Clarion-Ledger, former U.S. Attorney Doug Jones of Birmingham, Alabama told them that in order to obtain the search warrant, the bureau would have to persuade a magistrate that a federal felony crime had been committed and evidence of the crime was on the premises.
Jones said it is unique for the FBI to raid a casino on an American Indian reservation.
The newspaper said that Mercury Gaming’s affiliated marketing arm, The Titan Agency, manages the tribe’s Pearl River Resort, which includes both casinos.
The resort issued a statement that it would cooperate in the investigation and that it would remain open for business.
The Clarion-Ledger noted that the raid comes during a turbulent period for tribal leadership. Phyliss J. Anderson would have taken office July 12 in the chief’s $466,000 salary position except for a council vote that negated that election and called for a new one September 6, with Denson casting the deciding vote.
Another newspaper, The Neshoba Democrat, quoted “multiple sources” as saying the investigation could be about alleged election fraud.
The FBI would not comment on the investigation for local media.
The Golden Moon and Silver Star casinos have more than 1,000 hotel rooms between them, according to the Pearl River Resort’s website. There are ten restaurants there, as well as two 18-hole golf courses and a 9,000 seat arena. The Golden Moon features a 28-story tower with nearly 200 slots.
The tribe also has a newer facility, the Hattiesburg, Mississippi-based Bok Homa Casino. The 27,000-square foot gaming operation features 750 slots.