The Northern Arapaho Business Council is asking a Wyoming District Court to grant an injunction mandating the immediate return of $75,000 improperly and unlawfully paid to Riverton attorney Joel M. Vincent and the Joel M. Vincent Law Office.
Mr. Vincent, who previously represented the Wind River Hotel & Casino, has over the past 12 months ignored repeated written demands from the Northern Arapaho Tribe and its counsel to return the $75,000 in question and any tribal documents and other materials in his possession. On May 4, 2020, a Wyoming District Court disqualified Mr. Vincent from continuing to represent Co-Chairman Al Addison and Councilman Samuel Dresser, as well as former casino employees Faith Wallowing Bull and Rosella Morin, in a lawsuit brought against the Tribe’s current legal counsel. The court called that suit “directly adverse to the Northern Arapaho Tribe.”
“The Northern Arapaho Business Council never authorized this $75,000 payment to Mr. Vincent, which it appears was unlawfully orchestrated by Co-Chairman Addison and a former employee of the Wind River Hotel & Casino so that Mr. Vincent and his collaborators could wage a meritless legal battle against our Tribe,” said NABC Chairman Lee Spoonhunter. “Every Tribal member should be outraged at this flagrant abuse of funds and betrayal of our Tribe’s sacred trust. On behalf of the Arapaho people, the NABC calls on Mr. Vincent to immediately return our tribal funds and property.”
On May 29, 2019, the NABC first formally notified Mr. Vincent that he and his firm were to immediately cease representation of the Tribe and its casino on all gaming matters, and he was formally terminated and barred from doing any work for the Tribe and all its entities by a Resolution of the NABC on June 6, 2019. However, on or about June 20, 2019, Mr. Vincent’s firm received from the casino an unauthorized and unlawful “pre-payment” totaling $75,000 for future legal matters, at the direction of Co-Chairman Addison and Faith Wallowing Bull. Mr. Vincent later admitted in an email that the payment was to be used for a future lawsuit against the Tribe on behalf of Wind River Hotel & Casino employees.
In its previous ruling, the Wyoming District Court has already found Mr. Vincent’s use of Northern Arapaho funds to pursue claims contrary to the interests of the Tribe to be a violation of both Wyoming law and the Rules of Professional Conduct for attorneys.
“We were shocked to learn that two of our fellow Councilmembers and two former Casino employees would dare to effectively steal the Tribe’s money to fund a lawsuit against the Tribe’s direct interests, and even more shocked that a licensed attorney would go along with this shameful scheme,” said Councilman Stephen Fast Horse. “Thankfully, we cleaned house last summer by terminating Mr. Vincent, former lobbyist Mark Howell, former legal counsel Baldwin Crocker & Rudd, and parting ways with former Casino CEO Jim Conrad. We are still dealing with the harm these individuals caused our Tribe, but we will take all steps necessary to protect the Arapaho people.”
Last summer, the Tribe was also forced to sue its other former attorneys – Kelly Rudd and the firm of Baldwin Crocker & Rudd (“BCR”) – for the return of Tribal funds held in trust, an accounting of all funds held by the firm and for the return of the Tribe’s legal files, which BCR had refused to return after the firm was terminated by the NABC. Subsequently, the Tribe’s General Council – which consists of all Tribal Citizens of voting age – voted unanimously to permanently ban BCR, Mr. Conrad and Mr. Howell from ever again working for the Tribe.
The above information and attachment were provided by the NABC spokesperson.