September 12, 2013 06:51AM
By MICHAEL MELIA
HARTFORD — The treasurer of the tribe that owns the Foxwoods Resort Casino is exploring the possibility of a plea agreement as he faces trial on charges that he stole $700,000 from the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, according to court documents.
In a motion seeking to push back the trial’s November start date, Steven Thomas’ attorney wrote that the two sides could use more time for their talks.
“The parties have continued to consider if any alternatives exist in this case short of trial that might be acceptable to both parties, and the requested continuance will enable those discussions to continue,” defense attorney Richard Reeve wrote in the filing.
Thomas is a member of the tribal council for the Mashantucket Pequots, who operate the Foxwoods casino on sovereign tribal land in southeastern Connecticut. The council has said it is confident in his dedication to his tribal duties, but the U.S. Interior Department declared this spring that Thomas would be ineligible to enter into government contracts for at least year.
Thomas was indicted in January along with his brother, former tribal chairman Michael Thomas. Michael Thomas was convicted in July of embezzling $100,000 from the tribe to pay for limousine service trips for his mother and satellite radio, cable TV and other personal expenses for himself. He faces sentencing in October.
Steven Thomas is accused of stealing more than $700,000 between 2005 and 2008, when he was assistant director of the tribe’s natural resources department. He has pleaded not guilty.
In the Aug. 28 defense motion seeking to push the trial’s start to February, Reeve also said court rulings on pending motions could affect the trial date and he has trials scheduled in other cases in September and October. The motion was denied by the judge, Janet Bond Arterton, who said it was premature.
Reeve and a spokesman for the tribe did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment.
At Michael Thomas’ trial, his attorney told the jury the government failed to prove its case and the charges for his mother’s rides to doctor’s appointments, which accounted for the bulk of the money, were legitimate expenses. Thomas did not testify, and his lawyer did not call any witnesses.