Report of Interview, 11/9/95 at Muskogee
Indian Services Officer
BIA – Muskogee, OK
Mr. Springwater advised that the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma
operates under a compact of self – Governance between the Cherokee
Nation of Oklahoma and the United States of America. Due to this
compact of Self – Governance, the Bureau of Indian Affairs has no
authority to approve severance pay for employees of the Cherokee
Nation of Oklahoma. Such approval must be obtained through the
Department of Interior of the United States Of America.
Copies of the following documents were provided by Mr.
1. Compact of Self – Governance Between The Cherokee
Nation of Oklahoma and The United States of America
2. F. Y. 1991 Annual Funding Agreement Attachment 1 to
Compact of self-Governance between the Cherokee
Nation of Oklahoma and the United States
3. F. V. 1992 Annual Funding Agreement Attachment 2 To
compact of self – Governance between The Cherokee
Nation of Oklahoma And the United States F. Y. 1993
Annual Funding Agreement Attachment 3 – To The
compact of Self – Governance Between The Cherokee
Nation And The United States
4. F. Y. 1994 Annual Funding Agreement Attachment To
The Compact Of Self – Governance Between The
Cherokee Nation And The United States
5. F. Y. Annual Funding Agreement Atbachnant To The
compact Of Self-Governance Between The Cherokee
Nation And The United States
6. F. Y. Annual Funding Agreement Attachment To The
Compact Of Self-Governance Between The Cherokee
Nation And The United States
Report of interview, 11/9/95 in Tahlequah
Deputy Executive Director, Tribal operations
Cherokee Nation, Tahlequah, OK
Mr. Long stated that he as well as Mark Downing and Don Vaughn
were designated as points of contact for the Mankiller
administration during the transition period of Tribal Chiefs. The
incoming adininistration designated Joe Jones, Gena Blackfox and
Bill Collins as points of contact.
Joe Jones indicated to him and others that Chief Byrd was not
demanding a resignation from anyone but felt that it was proper for
executive level employees to offer resignation and mentioned a date
of October 1, 1995. By that date Chief Byrd would have made a
choice for the positions. Mr. Jones did not indicate that anyone
had been selected to fill any positions or to be relieved from any
positions. Mr. Jones also said that perhaps, if another person was
brought in to a position tje present employee might he reassigned.
To his knowledge, there was no meeting held by outgoing
administration employees regarding severance pay but there was a
lot of individual talk about severance pay. Mr. Long is under the
impression that two employees, Gweyn Grayson and Lynn Howard
initially approached Chief Mankiller asking for severance pay.
Later other individuals got word of a severance offer and also
approached Chief Mankiller. In his opinion there was no intent; by
Chief Mankiller or others to disrupt the tribal government or the
transition. Chief Mankiller didn’t assist in the transition
herself but she did speak to Mr. Long and wanted him to stay for
the sake of continuity.
A letter from Jim Wilcoxen was received at the Cherokee Nation
advising that until the legality of severance pay issue was
reviewed, no checks should be issued. By the time the letter was
received the checks had been cut but some had not been picked up by
the recipients. He and Don Vaughn took the letter to Chief
Mankiller who stated that she chose not to follow’the legal advice.
She told them to release any checks which had not been picked up.
He and DeWayne Couch agreed that a copy of the Wilcoxen
letter should he forwarded to the severance pay recipients so they
did so with a cover letter.
Mr. Long was requested to provide a breakdown of severance
pay checks to establish what components made up the total. He was
also requested to provide the basis for the severance arnount in
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.
Report of Interview 11/6/95 at Stilwell, Oklahoma
Stilwell Housing Authority
8Ol N. 4th Street
Mrs. Crook stated she was the Administrative Assistant to
Tommy Thompson at Bingo Outpost from August 1993 until July 1, 1994
when she resigned. Her duties were to work directly for Tommy
Thompson as liaison to the Bingo Board and Tribal council members.
She made sure that Bingo Outpost followed the Federal regulations
and handled matters that came up with the Bingo Board of
Commissioners as well as kept the commissioners apprised of what
the outpost could and could not do regarding compliance with gaming
She resigned due to the treatment of employees by Tommy
Thompson, Rick Smith, and Elizabeth Burmingham [AKA Mary Harris].
numerous employee problems. In her opinion, Burmingham and Thompson
had some type of an agenda to which no one else was privy. This
agenda benefitted Burmingham, Thompson and Rick Smith. No one was
allowed to do their job or make improvements and changes due to the
total control of Bingo outpost by Tommy Thompson. Burmingham was
Thompson’s righthand employee, her title was Director of
Mrs. Crook recalls that Thompson told the employees not to
talk about anything pertaining to the Bingo operation. He didn’t
want it revealed were the money was going, were it was being spent
or what the accounting practices were going on behind the scenes.
All Outpost funds ware manipulated to the benefit of Thompson,
Rick Smith, Elizabeth Burmingham, George Bearpaw, and Wilma
Mankiller. Mrs. Crook stated she has no direct knowledge as to
what exactly what was going on but could tell something was wrong.
Burmingham let it me known that she was covering Tommy Thompson and
she could get whatever she wanted from Thompson.
Thompson, Rick smith, and Burmingham all received numerous
extra checks from outpost funds for various reasons. Thompson was
an accountant and smart enough to manipulate the books to cover
Jody Reece was Director of Finance until about May 1994 when
he quit and went back to work at the Cherokee Nation as an auditor.
He had numerous arguments with Thompson.
Charlie Locust was in charge of physical plants and knows
alot. He quit the Outpost headquarters and is now Director of
Operations at the Siloam Springs in Catoosa Bingo Halls.
Tim Thompson took over as Director of Finance when Jody Reece
resigned. Tim Thompson was there for only a short period of time.
James Starr took over as Director of Finance and apparently
knows about alot of things that took place at the Corporate
Deanna Panter has some type of a vendetta against Gerald
Cantrell as does Todd Davis, Director of Marketing and James Starr.
For that reason she does not know how coopertive they will be.
Susie Scott may have caused Karen Brooks to transfer to the
Roland Bingo Hail. Brooks was in charge of payroll. Brooks is a
very sharp and ethical individual
Mrs. Crook stated that while employed for Bingo Outpost she
was forbidden to go to the Commissioners with information and she
got in trouble with Tommy Thompson when she spoke to George Bearpaw
about the fight which took place between Susan Swafford and
Elizabeth Burmingham. Susan Swafford worked for Elizabeth
Burminghan in Personnel as a clerk before she resigned. She now
works at the Cherokee Nation offices, South of the Adair County
Report of Interview October 30, 1995
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.
Report of Interview 11/14/95 at Tahlequah
WP (Pat) Ragsdale
Director, Marshal Service
Cherokee Nation, Tahlequah, OK
Mr. Ragsdale stated that he hold his current position during
the Mankiller Administration. shortly after the tribal election
on July 29, 1995 and prior to the appointment of transition teams
there was a staff meeting regarding the upcoming transition. Chief
Mankiller was not present at this meeting. It appeared to Mr.
RagsdaIe that several individuals in the meeting believed their
jobs to be in jeopardy under the new administration. A transition
team consisting of George Long, Mark Downing and Don Vaughan was
appointed at the meeting
Later that day there was a meeting between the transition
teams. After that meeting Mr. Ragsdale was told by Mark Downing-
the new administration transition team had requested that the
executive staff be informed that it was expected that the executive
level staff members submit their resignation so that Chief Byrd
could act on them individually. It was Mr. Ragsdale’s perception
that the resignations would be considered over a period of time and
it would be decided what employees would be retained. Mr.
Ragsdale told Downing that he would not resign until requested to
do so by the new Chief.
There were two or three more staff meetings regarding the
upcoming transition. Chief Mankiller did not attend these
meetings. During one of there meetings Mr. Ragsdale heard some of
the executives indicate they were wavering about remaining with the
Nation. Mr. Ragsdale advised them against resigning. Soneone
mentioned that they might receive better benefits if they left
prior to being forced out. Mr. Ragsdale continued to encourage
them against leaving and told them there was a merit system of
On Monday prior to inauguration, Ragsdale learned that several
executives had resigned and sone were contemplating resigning.
Those individuals included Pam Iron, Gwen Grayson, Lynn Howard,
Rhonda Clemmons, Allan Harder and Lee Fleming. He advised George
Long and Don Vaughan against leaving. Ragsdale was under the
impression that those resigning were receiving some type of
severance pay but was not aware of details. He doesn’t know how
the severance pay idea was originated. He never heard Chief
Mankiller say anything about severance pay. There was no attempt
to disrupt the new administration or the transition. He felt the
transition problems arose because the New Chief and old chief
didn’t get together.
Mr. Ragsdale doesn’t recall a conversation wIth Chief
Mankiller concerning Diane Kelley