Monday, October 15, 2007

Who are the bad guys here???

Prominent tribal attorney sued by former client
SACRAMENTO -- One of California's most successful Indian gambling tribes has accused its former counsel, prominent tribal attorney Howard Dickstein, of fraud and self-dealing in a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Yolo County.

"This lawsuit is about greed and betrayal," declares the 57-page complaint filed by attorneys for the Rumsey band, which operates one of the state's largest casinos with 3,100 slot machines in the remote Capay Valley northwest of Sacramento.

The 40-member tribe alleged that Dickstein and it's former financial advisor, Arlen Opper, "placed their own interests and the interests of others ahead of the tribe's" in complicated investments and business deals "fraught with self-dealing and conflicts of interest."

"In the final analysis, the tribe's former trusted counsel and investment advisor literally fed off the tribe's financial success, or allowed others to do so, without the tribal council's knowledge and approval," the suit alleges.

Dickstein, who also represents the Pala band of San Diego County, helped deliver Rumsey from poverty during 20 years as its attorney. He was abruptly fired last year, not long after a new chairman was elected. He portrayed the lawsuit as "political payback" by opponents in the small tribe.

Dickstein said he helped Rumsey grow from "less than $100,000 in assets and a tilt-up bingo hall" to a diverse economic empire with "assets in excess of $1 billion."

"It's extremely hurtful ... after all these years of good faith and dedication, to be faced with a pack of lies," Dickstein said, promising a countersuit. "We will fight back and fight back hard."

- James P. Sweeney, Copley News Service

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