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Stereotype of the Month Entry

Another Stereotype of the Month entry:

From the Hartford Courant:

Critic Attacks Casinos

Some Question Beecher's Motivation

Courant Staff Writer

February 6 2006

As a state police lieutenant, Bradley Beecher supervised some of the most sensitive investigations into Connecticut's casinos before going to work for the Mohegan Tribe.

Out of work and angry, Beecher is now out for blood, alleging that the Mohegans — as well as the Mashantucket Pequots and the rest of the tribes behind the $20 billion Indian gambling industry — operate largely unregulated and unwatched by authorities.

It's an enticing story, but is Beecher little more than an ex-employee out for revenge — or is there some truth behind his troubling allegations?

"The best regulation is not self-regulation," says Beecher, of Old Saybrook, who says that Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods Resort — the wealthiest casinos in the world — face virtually no outside regulatory oversight.

"What controls are there that keeps anybody from skimming money out of these casinos?" Beecher, 49, asks. "Who is to control that? Their gaming commission controls that. Who controls the gaming commission? Nobody."

Beecher, however, isn't merely looking to expose Indian gaming. He's also looking for work. His company, Thetis Consulting, advertises "gaming, regulation, education and security services" nationwide.

Critics say this raises questions about his motivation — particularly since he had little to say publicly when he was employed by the Mohegan Tribe for seven years.

Beecher spent 21 years with the state police before jumping to work for the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Commission between 1997 and 2004.

Mohegan Tribal Chairman Bruce "Two Dogs" Bozsum dismisses Beecher as "a disgruntled employee." The Mohegan Sun casino, Bozsum said, is a "tight-run ship. Tighter than I knew before being elected. Everything is watched closely. It's all monitored."

Each of Connecticut's two Native American casinos is regulated by its own tribal gaming commission, which is in turn overseen by the tribal council. The state Division of Special Revenue, which assures that the state receives 25 percent of all slots revenue, and the National Indian Gaming Commission play more limited roles.

"We regulate what we have the authority to regulate. They are a sovereign nation and they do have certain rights," said Paul A. Young, executive director at the Division of Special Revenue.

"We license all people at the casinos that are involved with gaming. Anybody that has anything to do with gambling, whether you are a dealer or a cocktail waitress on the floor, you get a license from the Division of Special Revenue," Young said. "We follow the flow of money through the slot machines."

Mohegan Tribal Gaming Commission Director John Meskill said the casino has three levels of oversight — the commission, the Division of Special Revenue and the National Indian Gaming Commission.

"We have over 50 people here regulating the facility," said Meskill, who previously supervised gambling at Foxwoods and earlier led the state Division of Special Revenue. "I feel very comfortable with the regulatory framework here."

But Beecher, who left his job overseeing boxing events for Mohegan Sun in spring 2004 when the tribe sought to cut back his work, calls the regulation an illusion, since the gaming commission reports to the Mohegan Tribal Council, which oversees the casino resort.

On his website (http://www.thetisconsulting.com), in frequent e-mails to top state officials and in a high-profile lawsuit now before the state Supreme Court, Beecher's frequent attacks have pushed him to the forefront at a time when Congress is considering tighter regulation of Indian casinos.

Beecher's attacks have rattled the Mohegans. Last year they won a court injunction to shut him up, saying Beecher had demanded more than $1 million in return for his silence about the inner workings of the casino. Beecher denies the extortion charge.

Under a court agreement, Beecher is prohibited from revealing confidential information. Beecher says this includes details that might relate to Mohegan investments in Pennsylvania, where the tribe hopes to open a slots casino at a horse track this year.

Tribal leaders say Beecher had nothing to do with their investment in Pocono Downs and that they went to court after an extortion attempt.

While Beecher cannot divulge certain specifics, he has kept up an unrelenting barrage against the tribe, particularly about a "fake investigative company" owned by the tribe in which, he says, he was unwittingly involved.

Tribal representatives deny Beecher's accusations, saying the company, Pickett & Associates, never did any work. An investigator from the chief state's attorney's office has questioned some involved in the case, including Beecher, but no formal investigation is underway.

"He's trying to sell himself as some kind of special investigator," Bozsum said. "He looks like somebody who wants to write a book."

In fact, Beecher is writing an online book — "A Fly on the Wall: True Stories of Political Crime and Corruption in the American Gaming Industry" — and each chapter is available for $9.95.

Last week, when Mohegan Tribal Council chief of staff Thomas C. Acevedo abruptly resigned, Beecher quickly sent out mass e-mails, claiming credit for playing "an instrumental role" and offering his services to groups fighting Indian casinos around the country. Acevedo could not be reached for comment.

This year, the state Supreme Court, in taking up a group of cases that relate to the sovereignty of Indian tribes, will consider a lawsuit filed by Beecher against the tribe.

The suit challenges the tribe's sovereign immunity, the longstanding doctrine that protects Indian tribes from lawsuits. Beecher said that for him this means the tribe can file suit to keep him from talking, while he cannot in turn sue the Mohegans to protect his rights.

Meanwhile, others deny Beecher's accusations of impropriety. Mohegan investor Len Wolman said it is "ludicrous" to suggest, as Beecher has, that another Mohegan Sun backer, Solomon Kerzner, bought a large number of Hartford Whalers hockey tickets in return for the state's backing off from an investigation of him.

Former Foxwoods Resort Casino CEO G. Michael Brown denied another charge: that the Mashantucket Pequots were working behind the scenes in the mid-1990s to block the Mohegans from winning approvals necessary to open a casino.

Still, with little opposition to the expanding casino gambling business in Connecticut, the accusations of a former state police officer stand out.

"There aren't too many of us," said Ridgefield First Selectman Rudy Marconi, who has helped lead the fight against an Indian casino in western Connecticut. "I don't know why people are afraid or are reluctant to address an issue like this with so many negatives associated with it."

With his coming Supreme Court case and increasing attention in Congress focusing on tribal casinos, Beecher says he won't back down.

"I worked for the state police for 21 years. I was a lieutenant," he said. "What part of me is a crackpot?"

Copyright 2006, Hartford Courant

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The facts about Indian gaming—corruption

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