Poarch investigates missing funds

Published 3:57 pm Thursday, October 13, 2005

By By Adam Prestridge
Poarch Creek Indian Tribal Chairman Fred L. McGhee confirmed Tuesday afternoon that the tribe is investigating financial discrepancies in its gaming operation.
McGhee, who is attending the United South and Eastern Tribes (USET) meetings in Orlando, Fla., this week, spoke with The Advance via cell phone.
Rumors of as much as $4 million in missing funds and related investigations have been circulating in Atmore for about a week.
"We have had some poor decisions made," Chairman McGhee said. "We're handling all of that internally. I won't say it's $4 million because I don't know how much it is. I don't know where that $4 million number came from. I've heard rumors, but it has never come out of my office as $4 million. We just know that some poor decisions have been made and we're in the process of correcting that right now."
When the Poarch Tribal Council met last Tuesday night, an agenda item called for discussion of $65,000 that was misplaced between the Creek Bingo Palace in Atmore and a local bank. In the discussion, it was alleged that a surveillance tape from the date of the transaction is missing and that the FBI is investigating the incident.
Chairman McGhee said Tuesday that the incident occurred two years ago.
"That got misplaced in a transfer somewhere between the Bingo Palace and the bank," McGhee said. "I'm not saying somebody took the money, but we have some funds missing there."
McGhee also stated that he was unaware of any FBI involvement.
"If there is (FBI involvement), I'm not aware of it," Chairman McGhee said. "They have not talked to me or they haven't talked to anybody that I know they should be talking to. If that's the case, I'm not aware of it."
Chairman McGhee is unsure if the money is truly missing or has honestly been misplaced. He said it could be due to an accounting error as well.
"I can't say how much it is," Chairman McGhee said. "I'm not saying it's missing, I'm just saying there were some poor decisions made and right now we're looking into it. I'm not telling you that the money is missing because that's probably not the case. That's pretty much all I have to say right now."
Chairman McGhee did say that the financial discrepancies were one of the deciding factors in the Tribal Council voting on Sept. 18 to strip the gaming board of all its decision-making authority. In that decision, the council also suspended former Tribal Chairman Eddie Tullis from the gaming board, which he chaired. Tullis also is a Tribal Council member.
"One of the decisions was that the Tribal Council would make the decisions of the gaming board until we get this issue resolved," Chairman McGhee said. "I think pretty soon, we'll have a resolution to it," Chairman McGhee said. "It was just something where some poor decisions were made and we're looking into why they were made or whatever, but we'll get it all taken care of."

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