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Former treasurer charged with theft reportedly hired by tribe

Mashantucket - The former Mashantucket Pequot treasurer awaiting sentencing on a charge of stealing from the tribe while working for its government has taken a job with the tribe's Foxwoods Resort Casino, sources say.

Steven Thomas, who pleaded guilty in October to a single count of stealing $177,600 from the tribe while serving as assistant director of its Department of Natural Resources Protection in 2007, was recently hired as Foxwoods' manager of tribal and Native American preference, according to multiple sources who asked to remain anonymous.

Thomas' hiring could not be confirmed with the tribe. Telephone and email messages left Friday for Rodney Butler, the tribal chairman, and Bill Satti, the director of public affairs, were not returned.

Thomas, charged in January on a three-count federal indictment, pleaded guilty to one of the counts in exchange for the U.S. government's dismissal of the other two. The government alleged that Thomas stole from the tribe by accepting payment for work he never performed. The $177,600 represents Thomas' 2007 salary.

Appearing before U.S. District Judge Janet Bond Arterton, Thomas admitted he signed time cards on which he "overstated" the hours he worked.

As part of the plea agreement, the prosecution agreed not to oppose Thomas' bid for a prison term shorter than the 12 to 18 months suggested under federal sentencing guidelines. Thomas is expected to ask for a sentence that calls for no prison time. He also faces a fine and an order that he make restitution to the tribe. His sentencing is set for Jan. 21.

Thomas, who became treasurer of the tribal council in 2012, resigned from the council because the tribe's constitution and by-laws require a councilor to step down if "found guilty of a felony or misdemeanor involving dishonesty in any state or federal court."

As Foxwoods' manager of tribal and Native American relations, Thomas will be 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.

According to a job description for the position, the manager "is responsible for providing a supportive role in the planning, communications, and enhancements of Native American and tribal preference recruiting, training development and retention."

Thomas' older brother, Michael, was convicted by a jury in July of embezzling more than $100,000 from the tribe from October 2007 to September 2009, a period during which he served as chairman of the tribal council.

Michael Thomas, who has filed an appeal with the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, is scheduled to begin serving an 18-month prison term on Jan. 14.


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