Saturday, August 20, 2005

Seminole Tribe Claims $4M Fraud, Etc., Etc.

Tribal Troubles Effects Widespread, Defense In One Case By LaBelle Lawyer

BIG CYPRESS, FL. (Aug. 20, 2005) -- The Seminole Tribe of Florida filed suit in 2002 in Broward Circuit Court against its former operations manager and three other ex-employees for allegedly using a computer services company and fake invoices to defraud the tribe of more than four million dollars. The tribe wants assets they claim were wrongfully diverted to be placed in a trust for the tribe's 2,800 members.

The tribe says that the former employees made illegal personal gains by installing software on the tribe's gambling machines to gain profits for themselves, and used tribal funds to help pay for a hotel in Nicaragua and to try to start an offshore Internet gambling website without tribal permission.

Although not named directly in this suit, Federal authorities have been investigating former Seminole chairman Chief James E. Billie for several years on alleged corruption charges. His signature allegedly appears on invoices for millions of dollars worth of computer services that the tribe says were not authorized by the tribal council. The money was reportedly paid to a company set up in Belize by Tim Cox, Billie's operations manager, and Danny Wisher, a tribe computer consultant.

Cox is a former Georgia police officer who lost his state law enforcement certification after reportedly being accused of lying. Cox and Wisher were fired by the tribe after a tribal internal audit. A federal investigation culminated in a criminal trial of three tribe employees, including Cox, in December 2002 but all were acquitted. 

A federal judge dismissed the "$4 million suit" in January 2003, saying the court had no jurisdiction.

The Seminole Tribe has reservations in Hendry at Big Cypress and in Glades county at Brighton as well as gambling facilities in Tampa, Immokalee, and Ft. Lauderdale. The Hard Rock Casinos in Tampa and Ft. Lauderdale reportedly net over $50 million a month in gambling and hotel profits. 

Donald A. Orlovsky, of the Kamen and Orlovsky, P.A. law firm from West Palm Beach is the tribe's attorney. Steven J. Polhemus, a LaBelle attorney was representing the defendants.

This is just a sample of the type of litigation the tribe has been involved in for many years as a result of the huge gambling operation initiated at the tribal properties around the state year ago. Former Chief Billie had been accused of sexual harrassment and the case against him was also later dropped. 

After the 2002 fraud case was dismissed another suit was filed against Billie and Cox claiming the two transferred $30-million of the tribe's money to an investment account without permission alleging tribe money was diverted to a jet, a hotel in Nicaragua and an Internet gambling company. Do the effects of gambling's big money never end?

Update: In January 2014, Steven Polhemus, attorney for Dan Wisher notes that Wisher was "completely exonerated and the Judge specifically found that there was no evidence of wrongdoing."


  1. Due to a technical error, some words and paragraphs were left out or transposed in the story about the Seminole Tribe's various law suits in recent years against former employees and members was unclear when originally posted this week.

    We apologize for the error and confusion and thank our alert readers for pointing it out.

  2. Anonymous5:46 PM

    lol...what a joke, attorney and client biggest scam artists. Is there any justice?