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Three acquitted of operating illegal casino in Hogansburg

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HOGANSBURG — A federal grand jury has acquitted three of five men accused of operating an unsanctioned casino on the St. Regis Mohawk Reservation.

Following two days of deliberation in U.S. District Court, Albany, the jury ruled that William Roger Jock and Thomas Angus Square, both of Hogansburg, and Joseph Hight of Atlanta were not guilty of allegations that they illegally ran Three Feathers Casino on Route 37.

Charges against Hogansburg residents Anthony Laughing Sr. and James Gray remain pending in federal court. Mr. Laughing was a defendant when the trial began Nov. 5, according to court documents, but a mistrial was declared relative only to him on Nov. 18. Court documents indicate that Mr. Laughing’s “medical status” left him unable to continue with the trial. Mr. Gray remains a fugitive, according to court documents, and has yet to be arraigned on any charges.

The casino was closed down in December 2012 following a multi-agency raid, with the federal government claiming 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 casino had apparently shut down in September 2012, but investigators alleged it continued to draw power from National Grid through an illegal electrical connection that was severed during the Dec. 18, 2012, raid.

The gambling parlor at 439 Route 37 was launched by the Kanienkehaka Kaianerehkowa Kanonhsesne, or the Men’s Council of the People of the Way of the Longhouse. They are not associated with the St. Regis Mohawk Tribal Council, the only governing body on the reservation recognized by the state. The St. Regis Tribal Gaming Commission did not recognize the casino as legitimate, maintaining that it operated in violation of the tribe’s gaming ordinance.

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