Eastern Pequot chairman quits amid questions of fund misuse

North Stonington - The chairman of the Eastern Pequot Tribal Council has stepped down amid the apparent misuse of $65,000 in tribal funds, tribal members say.

Brian Geer's resignation as chairman was communicated to tribal members who attended a monthly meeting with council members June 22, according to Eric Croft, a tribal member who attended the meeting.

Dennis Jenkins, the council's vice chairman, is serving as acting chairman, Croft said.

Brenda Geer, Brian Geer's sister and the council's corresponding secretary, told a reporter who visited the tribe's offices last week that the tribe had no comment on the situation.

Jenkins, of Norwich, has not responded to phone messages.

Sources who spoke on condition of anonymity confirmed Croft's account of the council meeting. They said they understood state police have been asked to investigate what they described as the "embezzlement" of the $65,000.

A state police spokesman said he had no knowledge of any investigation of the tribe.

On Wednesday, the tribe's website made no mention of Brian Geer, listing 11 others as members of the council and identifying Jenkins as vice chairman. According to the site, Jenkins, a retired Connecticut state trooper, is a 25-year veteran of the Statewide Organized Crime Investigative Task Force.

Another council member, Joseph Perry Jr. of Montville, is a former state police commander.

Brian Geer was elected a year ago to a three-year term as chairman. He had previously served as the council's treasurer. His election followed the tribe's revival of a bid to win federal recognition.

In January 2012, the tribe filed a lawsuit against U.S. Department of the Interior officials, seeking to overturn the Bureau of Indian Affairs' 2005 denial of recognition, which could have entitled the tribe to sovereignty and the right to apply for certain federal aid. The denial reversed a 2002 ruling in which the BIA had granted recognition.

A judge dismissed the lawsuit in March.

The tribe is scheduled to hold council elections at its annual meeting later this month. Brenda Geer is a candidate for vice chairwoman, according to tribal members.

b.hallenbeck@theday.com

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