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Chitimacha Tribal Chairman Arrested in Alleged Casino Theft Sche - KATC.com | Continuous News Coverage | Acadiana-Lafayette

UPDATE: Chitimacha Tribe issues statement about chairman's arrest

Posted: Updated:
O’Neal Darden, Jr. O’Neal Darden, Jr.

The Chitimacha Tribe of Louisiana issued a statement today after news came that the tribe's chairman, O'Neil J. Darden Jr., was arrested by State Police and accused of stealing from the tribe. 

"The Chairman has been suspended by the Tribal Council from his duties since February pending the outcome of the State Police investigation. Since that time, the Vice Chairman and the Tribal Council have assumed all of the duties and responsibilities of the Chairman," the tribe stated. "As required by law in the Tribal State Compact, this matter was subject to an independent investigation by the Louisiana State Police Indian Gaming Unit. As also required in the Compact, the matter was referred to the United States Attorney's Office and State authorities for review and will now be handled by the State for future procedures as required by applicable law." 

Since the alleged theft involved gaming operations, the tribe "acted quickly and prudently in dealing with this highly sensitive matter. It commenced immediate steps to assure that the absolute integrity of its operations was and is maintained," the statement reads. "Due to the ongoing investigation, the Tribal Council directed that a comprehensive examination of all financial transactions of both Tribal Government and the Cypress Bayou Casino Hotel records be conducted by independent forensic audit specialists. This audit confirmed that this is an isolated event and did not reveal any other improper actions or transactions. The Tribal gaming operations have not been affected by these arrests in any way."

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In January 2016, the Louisiana State Police Indian Gaming Unit (Cypress Bayou Field Office) received a criminal complaint regarding the Cypress Bayou Casino’s General Manager Anthony Patrone and Chief Financial Officer Montie Spivey. The complaint also involved Chitimacha Tribal Chairman O’Neal Darden, Jr.

The complaint alleged the manipulation of the casino’s employee and payroll databases that resulted in Darden receiving a several thousand dollar annual bonus that he was not entitled to. The alleged scheme was facilitated by Patrone and Spivey. They instructed the casino’s Human Resource Department to reactivate Darden, who was no longer an employee of the casino, in the employee database to give the appearance that he qualified for an annual bonus. Once Darden was shown as an active employee in the database, Patrone and Spivey directed the Accounting Department to electronically transfer the bonus money into Darden’s personal checking account. 

A follow-up investigation by State Police Investigators resulted in the arrests of both Patrone and Spivey on the charges of felony theft, computer fraud, and obstruction of justice. Patrone and Spivey were both booked into the St. Mary Parish jail in February 2016.  Additionally, an arrest warrant was secured for Darden on the charge of felony theft. Darden's arrest was postponed due to the Tribal-State Compact procedural requirements pertaining to arresting enrolled tribal members. 

In subsequent discussions with the U.S. Attorney's Office and the Chitimacha Tribe, it was decided that the state would effectuate the arrest and prosecution of Darden. In a collaborative agreement between State Police and the Chitimacha Tribe, Darden self-surrendered himself to state police investigators on June 20, 2016, and was booked on felony theft charges at the St. Mary Parish jail.

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