The audit committee of Seneca Gaming Corp. has begun an investigation into fraud allegations involving two members of the corporate board, one of whom is a candidate for president of the Seneca Nation of Indians.
The committee is investigating unspecified fraud allegations against Cochise RedEye, corporate secretary, and Jeffrey L. Gill, who serves with RedEye on a board that oversees the spending of hundreds of millions of dollars each year by the Senecas’ three casinos.
A news release announcing the investigation was sent out by supporters of Barry E. Snyder Sr., who is running against RedEye and others in the Nov. 6 election. Members of the gaming corporation then confirmed for The Buffalo News that there is an investigation.
“Both Jeff and Cochise should step down from their current positions … until this investigation has been completed,” Snyder said.
RedEye is one of five candidates for president in the Seneca Nation’s hard-fought election campaign. Both he and Gill are retired Erie County sheriff’s deputies.
He denied any wrongdoing by either him or Gill and called the action “completely political.”
“Barry Snyder and his supporters control that audit committee,” RedEye said.
While not specifying the alleged fraud, Snyder said the audit committee has learned of “serious allegations” of fraud that “[have] been going on for many months.” He said Gill and RedEye were appointed to their current positions on the board by Seneca President Robert Odawi Porter.
According to Snyder, RedEye was temporarily removed from the gaming corporation’s board in 2009, after a sexual-harassment complaint was filed against him, and Gill was ousted as corporate chairman last year after a female employee accused him of creating a hostile work environment.
Robert E. Mele, the current chairman, said he is unaware of any complaint against RedEye. He said the complaints against Gill have been “fully addressed.”
RedEye said he believes he and Gill are under investigation for a trip they took in September to Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., where they met with National Hockey League player Jordan Nolan and his father, Ted, a former coach for the Buffalo Sabres.
“We went there to meet with Jordan Nolan, who is an Indian, and talk to him about coming here and speaking to our young people,” RedEye said. “Jeff and I both put in for mileage for the trip, 55 cents a mile, but we paid for our own rooms.”
RedEye denied that a sexual-harassment complaint was filed against him by any gaming corporation employee.
Porter called Snyder’s statement “a pure political act from a disgraced candidate for president whose campaign is in a death spiral.”
Gill, who is running for Tribal Council on a ticket with Porter, could not be reached to comment Monday. Porter is running for treasurer, and his ally, Tribal Council Chairman Richard E. Nephew, is running for president.
In recent weeks, supporters of Snyder and Porter have traded a series of harsh allegations of improper conduct. In addition to RedEye, Nephew and Snyder, businessmen Cyrus M. Schindler and Aaron J. Pierce are running for president.