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Mashantucket — In voting last week to “banish” Michael and Steven Thomas, the former Mashantucket Pequot leaders convicted of corruption, the tribe’s elders council followed tribal by-laws that call for such punishment.
But the practical effect of the votes remained unclear Monday to some tribal members, none of whom would speak on the record.
Michael Thomas, the former tribal chairman, is currently serving an 18-month sentence in federal prison. His younger brother, Steven, a former tribal treasurer, will be allowed to continue living on the reservation and working at the tribe’s Foxwoods Resort Casino, according to a notice of the action taken against him.
One tribal member called the terms of Steven Thomas’ banishment “ludicrous” and unlike any ever previously imposed by the elders council. A tribal spokesman did not respond to requests for comment.
Notices of the banishments, dated Friday, were obtained by The Day.
According to the notice pertaining to Michael Thomas, the elders council voted Wednesday to banish him “from the Mashantucket (Western) Pequot Reservation and all tribal lands.”
Michael Thomas was convicted by a jury in July of embezzling more than $100,000 from the tribe by misusing a tribe-issued credit card between 2007 and 2009, a period during which he was chairman. He reported to prison in January.
A separate notice says the elders council voted to banish Steven Thomas from the reservation for one year “with the exception of his home located on the Reservation, to/from his place of employment (Foxwoods), and any location that is required by his employment.”
Steven Thomas, who resigned as treasurer before pleading guilty to a single count of theft from the tribe, admitted in court that he had falsified time cards while working for the tribe’s Department of Natural Resources Protection. He was sentenced last month to two years’ probation, the first three months of which were to be served in home confinement.
He also was ordered to repay the tribe $177,600, his 2007 salary.
While awaiting sentencing, Steven Thomas was hired as Foxwoods’ manager of tribal and Native American relations. According to a job description, the position is involved in carrying out the Mashantucket Tribal and Native American Preference Law, which requires employers on the tribe’s reservation to afford preference in employment opportunities to qualified Mashantucket tribal members, their spouses and members of other tribes, in that order.
In other Mashantucket Pequot banishment cases, tribal members have been ordered off the reservation and forced to surrender privileges of tribal membership. In the past, that meant forfeiting the monthly distributions of Foxwoods revenues that tribal members once received. Such payments have been discontinued.
One of last week’s banishment notices indicated that another tribal member, Malik Nunn, also had been banished and that two other individuals, Bryon McClellan and Ahmad Green, had been “excluded” from the reservation.
Nunn was sentenced earlier this year in New London Superior Court to five years in prison followed by five years of special parole in connection with an armed robbery in April 2013.