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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of New York

Monday, June 22, 2015

Former Tribal Councilor Of The Seneca Nation Of Indians And Vice Chairman Of The Board Of Directors Of The Seneca Gaming Corporation Pleads Guilty To Lying To The Fbi

CONTACT:      Barbara Burns
PHONE:         (716) 843-5817
FAX:            (716) 551-3051
BUFFALO, N.Y.—The United States Attorney’s Office announced today that Bergal L. Mitchell, III, 41, of Gowanda, NY, pleaded guilty to lying to Special Agents of the  Federal Bureau of Investigation before U.S District Judge Richard J. Arcara. The charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Anthony M. Bruce and James P. Kennedy, Jr., who are handling the case, stated that the defendant, who was formerly a tribal councilor of the Seneca Nation of Indians (SNI) and who was, in 2006, Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Seneca Gaming Corporation (SGC), stole for himself $338,000 out of the $2.1 million that the SNI and its subsidiaries paid in order to purchase 251 acres of farmland in Lewiston, NY. That land now serves as the site for the Seneca Hickory Stick Golf Course.

On September 10, 2008, Mitchell was interviewed by FBI agents who were investigating the land purchase. During the interview, the defendant attempted to cover up his theft of the $338,000 by falsely telling the agents that he had no knowledge of a $248,000 wire transfer to an account belonging to his late half-brother. Mitchell also lied about securing a $125,000 cashier’s check from these proceeds which he used to purchase a home for his parents and personally delivered to the sellers of the house. In addition, the defendant lied about using $23,000 of these proceeds to make a loan to friend.

Timothy Toohey, who was convicted of unlawfully receiving an additional $202,000 of the proceeds from the land deal, was sentenced to 33 months in prison.

The plea was the culmination of an investigation on the part of Special Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The New York Stated Police, Internal Revenue Service and Niagara County District Attorney’s Office also assisted in the investigation.

Sentencing is scheduled for October 7, 2015 at 1:00 p.m. before Judge Arcara.

Updated June 23, 2015