Feds bar Mashantucket official from doing business with government

Mashantucket — Steven Thomas, the Mashantucket Pequot treasurer facing federal charges that he stole from the tribe, has been barred from doing business with the U.S. government, The Associated Press reported Wednesday.

The Department of the Interior has declared Thomas ineligible to enter into government contracts for at least one year, according to a website for federal procurement systems, the AP said.

The finding was based on evidence of a lack of honesty or integrity.

Neither tribal officials nor the attorney representing Thomas in federal court responded to messages seeking comment on the report.

Earlier this year, the tribal chairman, Rodney Butler, indicated the tribe was standing behind Thomas, who pleaded not guilty to one count of theft from an Indian tribal organization and two counts of theft from an Indian tribal government receiving federal funds.

The Mashantuckets own Foxwoods Resort Casino.

In indictments returned by a grand jury in January, the government alleged Thomas stole more than $700,000 from the tribe while working as assistant director of its Department of Natural Resources Protection from January 2005 through June 2008.

Thomas was elected to the tribal council in 2009 and became the council treasurer in 2012. His brother Michael, a former tribal chairman, was indicted on the same counts in connection with the alleged theft of more than $100,000 from the tribe.

The Thomases have a November trial date in U.S. District Court in New Haven.

The federal procurement site describes Thomas’ ineligibility as “preliminary” pending further proceedings, according to the AP.

Like other federally recognized tribes, the Mashantuckets qualify for federal grants for health services and economic development. The latest available documents show that the Interior Department and the Department of Health and Human Services provide more than $4.5 million annually to the tribe, the AP has reported.

b.hallenbeck@theday.com

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