Report of Interview 11/21/95 at Tahlequah
James Colbert Starr
Mr. Starr has worked for the Bingo outpost in corporate
headquarters since March 1993. He started as a senior accountant
and has been in the finance department ever since. He will soon be
transferring to the West Siloam Bingo Hall as a Director of
At the present tine the outpost is being audited by Deloitte
and Touche of Tulsa, Oklahoma. They have been auditing the outpost
since September 1995. Mr. Starr hasn't seen any of the results as
of yet. It is his understanding that the auditors have done a
price analysis on purchases.
Mr. Starr said that he heard from Arvil Wolfe, the purchasing
agent at the Roland Bingo Hall, that Rick Smith told him not to buy
from anyone except Cysco of Oklahoma. David Cottner, a manager
with Cysco, told Mr. Starr that the outpost didn't receive
discounts from Cycso since they didn't request then. If the
Outpost had requested the discounts the Cysco prices wou1d have
been better. Cottner is a friend of Rick Smith's and was promoted
from salesman to a managment position after his arrangement with
Bingo outpost. The Outpost used to purchase from Cysco of Arkansas
but that changed about the same time that Catoosa Bingo Hall
The Outpost received discount checks from Cysco of Arkansas
but not from Cysco of Oklahoma until after Mr. Starr called Arvil
Wolfe and Roland asking about discount checks. Steve Drake at
Roland and someone at Vstoosa possobly, Cliff Wofford, were also
called by Starr concerning discount checks. After those telephone
calls some discount checks showed up on cash activity reports from
the two Bingo Halls that were then Open. The discounts continued
but Mr. Starr has no way of knowing if they were enough.
The possibility of rebates came to Starr's attention because
he and another accountant, Karen Brooks, noticed that they weren't
making money on the concessions. Her husband worked in a grocery
store and knew that the food suppliers should be providing
Mr. Starr explained that there was no way for the headquarters
accountants to audit the figures subinitted by the individual Bingo
Halls. It would have been easy tor personnel at the Halls to alter
their financial reports which were submitted. Tommy Thompson and
Rick Smith didn't appear to want the headquarters accountants in
the Halls. There was no cross-training or intercourse between
financial people in the Bingo Halls and the corporate headquarters.
The reports submitted by the Bingo Hallsls included figures
pertaining to concession sales, bingo sales, and smoke shop sales.
Although Tommy Thompson had told Mr. Starr that the cash
registers at the Bingo Halls could not be manipulated, Starr heard
from someone that they could. The Individual who told them this
may have been Brenda Fields. She managed the west Siloam Hall and
it never made a profit until after she was terminated. She
received six months severance pay at the time. She had supposably
been sleeping with Rick Smith.
George Hummingbird the current manager at the Catoosa Hall has
said that he was told by some employee that this employee had seen
a Cysco check payable to Rick Smith.
In Mr. Starr's opinion the Bingo Halls purchased way to many
supplies. Arvil Wolfe was the purchasing agent at Roland but
wasn't allowed to make purchases; he was just an order processor.
Neva White did the purchasing at Roland and she or Rick Smith
approved all the Roland purchases.
Wolfe told Mr. Starr that all the freezers were full but they
continued to order. Wolfe could have gotten a better deal on paper
products and maintenance supplies but was not allowed to do this.
At Catoosa, Rick Smith signed most purchase orders but Gregg
Stice was allowed to sign some.
Joyce Choate at Siloam has said that they were paying to much
Regarding travel expenses, Mr. Starr stated that Rick Smith
received travel pay for mileage at 28 cents per mile and at the
same time he was making purchases at convenience stores for about
$30.00 in merchandise which he was claiming as meal expenses. He
would stay in Catoosa, Siloam or Roland for several days at a time
and would receive payment for his motel expenses based on receipts
which he submitted. On occasions he was actually at the motels
because when someone needed him he could be reached. At other
times he could not be located.
Reqarding out of pocket expenses, Mr. Starr stated that these
were paid to Tommy Thompson with out any documentation. They also
paid him for two cellular phone services at the same time.
Tommy Thompson gave Rick Smith quarterly bonuses which
amounted to thousands of dollars over a years period of time. Mr.
Starr does not believe those bonuses were authorized.
Between October 1, 1994 and October 1, 1995 the bingo outpost
spent over $60,000 on t-shirts which were printed at Sequoya Screen
Printer in Sallisaw Oklahoma where Rick Smith's wife was the
manager. Joe Cox was the owner The outpost couldn't sell the
shirts and gave many of them away. They still have about $10,000
worth of the shirts in stock at tha Siloam Hall.
The figures at the Siloam Hall didn't make since because they
were not reporting enough revenue for the attendance. This was
occurring while Fields was the manager. Sometime after being
terminated she telephone Buddy Holt and wanted to meet with him to
talk about it but he did not meet her. Holt worked at the Roland
Mr. Starr stated that there was never an internal auditor
hired by Tommy Thompson although he was authorized such a position
since before 1994. Thompson would not offer enough salary for
anyone to take the job.
Gerald D. Cantrell
Director of Administration
Bingo Outpost, Stiliwell, OK
In late July in 1995 Mr. Cantrell heard a rumor that Tommy
Thompson had resigned not as just has resigned from the Bingo
Outpost. During this time frame Thompson was making request from
Tim Thompson, Director of Finance for the Bingo outpost, for
information regarding Bingo Outpost finances. Tim Thompson would
take Bingo Outpost files to Tommy Thompson's office until Thursday
prior to the transition in power of the Cherokee Nation.
About August 4, 1995 Tommy Thompson called a meeting of the
Directors of Bingo Outpost and announced he had resigned his
position as President and Chief Executive officer of Bingo Outpost
as of two days prior to the meeting. He stated he was retaining
his seat on the Board of Directors and he would be around until the
transition to kick everyones ass because he had worked hard to get
the Outpost to where it was. He told everyone how well he and
Chief Mankiller had done with the Outpost as a tribe. He then left
the Bingo Outpost Corporate headquarters and did not designate
anyone to be in charge.
During the week prior to the inauguration of Chief Joe Byrd,
Mr. Cantrell saw a letter of some kind reflecting severance pay and
a quarterly bonus going to Tommy Thompson. Later he saw a written
request by Thompson for an additional quarterly bonus throuqh the
month of September and an expense payntent request. Mr. Cantrell
then talks with Tin Thompson and told him that Tommy Thompson was
asking him to do things he sliouldn't do . Tim Thompson then left
town and was unavailable to satisfy the request of Tommy Thompson
for additional bonus and expenses. Mr. Cantrell later received a
call from Tommy Thompson requesting the additional severance pay
and quarterly bonus check to be issued. Mr. Cantrell informed them
he was not in the position to make such a request. After that
conversation with Tommy Thompson~ Thompson's wife came to the Bingo
Outpost with a request for $11,000 but she was not allowed into the
building by Mr. Cantrell. She left and then called Mr. Cantrell
and said she had been there and then chewed him out. Cantrell told
her that he would not act on the request but that if she brought it
back to the Outpost then he would accept it.
He then received another call from Tommy Thompson telling him
that this request was legal. Cantrell told him to wait until after
the transition. Thompson than advised him that the request
represented a board approved action.
Greg Pitcher, Chairman of- the Board of Directors Bingo
Outpost, then called Mr. Cantrell and told him the request was
legal and had been approved by the Board. And that Chief Elect Joe
Byrd had asked Pitcher to stay on during the transition. Pitcher
told Mr. Cantrell that John Ketcher was on his way to the
corporation headquarters to provide the request which had been
signed by the board members. Pitcher advised Mr. Cantrell to act
on the request. Ketcher arrived at Bingo headquarters with the
request for severance pay for all the employees that had been
authorized by the Board of Directors. Mr. Cantrell informed
Ketcher there was no one available who could write the checks.
Ketcher told Mr. Cantrell he would come back at 4 p.m.
Mr. Cantrell then put all the employees in the finance
department on a administrative leave. He received another call
from Greg Pitcher telling him they would bring the Marshals with
them the next time they arrived. At 4 p.m. Ketcher cane back and
Mr. Cantrell told Ketcher that all the finance people were out.
Ketcher then told Cantrell that when he got the checks cut to bring
them to his office.
Mr. Cantrell then called Joe Byrd who returned his call about
5 p.m. and Mr. Cantrell briefed Chief Elect Byrd. Chief Byrd then
asked Cantrell to lock up headquarters for the good of the Cherokee
Nation. Mr. Cantrell closed down corporation headquarters.
During the ongoing dispute regarding the severance checks
Mr. Cantrell heard from someone in the security department that
Rick Smith was removing files from the Catoosa outpost in trash
bags. On that same day Mr. Cantrell faxed a memo, on his own, that
particular named individuals had resigned from the outpost and were
no longer allowed in the facilities. Mr. Cantrell also heard from
the Catoosa Outpost that Greg Stice, the Manager, was deleting
information from the computer hard drive. He also heard that Rick
Smith has sold some gaming equipment.
These rumors are the reason that Mr. Cantrell decided to close
the Bingo halls as well as the corporate headquarters. This was on
Thursday before inauguration and the facilities remained closed on
That Thursday night Chief Mankiller, Tommy Thompson and some
computer people from Cherokee Nation broke into the Bingo Corporate
headquarters. The next day he found that his files had been gone
through and his desk had been entered.
On the following Priday Chief Mankiller and John Ketcher went
to BankFirst in Tahlequah and had money wired from the Bingo
Outpost trust account to the Cherokee Nation payroll account. The
severance pay checks were then issued from Bankfirst on counter
checks. Had these checks been properly issued they would have been
drawn on tile Outpost payroll account and not the Cherokee payroll
- Mr. Cantrell stated that he has never received minutes from
the Bingo Board of Directors meetings for August 1st and August 8th.