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Judge denies Mashantucket treasurer’s bid to delay trial on theft charges

By Brian Hallenbeck

Publication: theday.com

Published September 03. 2013 10:00AM   Updated September 03. 2013 2:14PM

A federal judge has denied as “premature” Mashantucket Pequot tribal Treasurer Steven Thomas’ request to postpone his trial on charges he stole more than $700,000 from the tribe that owns Foxwoods Resort Casino.

In a filing last week in U.S. District Court in New Haven, Thomas’ attorney, Richard Reeve, asked Judge Janet Bond Arterton to reschedule the trial from this November to February 2014.

Reeve noted the government has yet to respond to his client’s motion that the case be dismissed.

“Depending upon how the Court rules on the pending motions, the parties might need to address additional matters prior to trial, and those issues could potentially impact upon the trial date,” Reeve wrote. “The requested continuance will enable both parties to proceed in an orderly manner, respond as necessary to the Court’s rulings, and be adequately prepared for trial.”

The delay would enable the parties to continue to discuss a settlement, Reeve wrote.

Arterton denied the request and issued a scheduling order that imposes a Friday deadline for the government to respond to Thomas’ motion that the case be dismissed. Thomas will then have a week to answer the government’s response. Arterton scheduled a hearing on the matter for Sept. 20.

Thomas, serving his second term on the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Council, has pleaded not guilty to charges he stole tribal funds while employed as assistant director of the tribe’s Department of Natural Resources Protection from January 2005 through June 2008. The alleged theft occurred in the form of Thomas accepting pay for hours he did not work in his tribal job, according to court documents.

In the motion seeking dismissal of the case, Reeve argued the charges against his client are “fatally flawed” and should be dismissed. Failing that, Reeve wrote, the government should be compelled to specify the legal basis of its claims and provide details of the specific acts it’s alleging.

The alleged theft occurred prior to Thomas’ election to the tribal council.

Thomas’ brother, Michael Thomas, a former tribal chairman, was found guilty by a federal jury in July of embezzling about $100,000 from the tribe while he was chairman. The charges stemmed from his use of a tribe-issued credit card to pay for personal expenses. He is awaiting sentencing.

b.hallenbeck@theday.com

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