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Trial postponed over alleged unsanctioned casino on St. Regis Mohawk Reservation

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AKWESASNE — The federal trial scheduled to begin this week in the case of five men accused of operating an unsanctioned casino on the St. Regis Mohawk Reservation has been pushed back to September.

It is the second postponement of a U.S. District Court trial against Akwesasne residents James Gray, William Roger Jock, Anthony L. Laughing Sr. and Thomas Angus Square, together with Joseph Hight of Atlanta, who face charges following a multiagency raid on the shuttered Three Feathers Casino in December. A trial initially was set for Feb. 11 in Utica, but was rescheduled to begin Monday. It now has been slated to begin Sept. 16.

According to court documents, the delay is to allow the defendants more time to prepare motions and prepare for trial, given the “voluminous” discovery that will take place in the matter. The government has provided the defense with about 13,000 pages of digital discovery and also has made available to the defense the proceeds of five search warrants, including five computer hard drives and 58 boxes of material seized from the casino.

The federal government alleges the men conducted a non-tribal gambling business and unlawfully possessed gambling devices in Indian country in connection with the operation of the casino, which opened in July 2011. The Route 37 casino apparently shut down in September, but investigators say it continued to draw power from National Grid through an illegal electrical connection that was severed during the Dec. 18 raid.

Laughing remains free on $50,000 bond, with a judge in April ordering that an electronic monitoring device he previously had been made to wear could be removed, as Laughing no longer is confined to his residence. Jock and Hight remain released on $10,000 bond each. Square remains held at the Clinton County jail, Plattsburgh, on $50,000 bond, with motions to have him released either on his own recognizance or on an unsecured bond denied. Gray remains a fugitive, according to court documents, and has yet to be arraigned on the charges.

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