Judge Rules Utah Tribe Is Phony, Throws Out Arbitration Awards
Posted May 6, 2008 9:24 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss
A federal judge has ruled that an Indian tribe formed during a meeting at an Arby’s restaurant in Provo, Utah, is a “complete sham” and the judgments awarded to the group by an arbitration council are phony.
The group calls itself the Wampanoag Nation, Tribe of Grayhead, Wolf Band, and it claims it is entitled to judgments against a variety of public officials awarded by the Western Arbitration Council. But U.S. District Judge Stephen Friot of Oklahoma City ruled last week that the tribe’s leaders are not entitled to status as American Indians and the arbitration council that awarded judgments was working in concert with them, the Salt Lake Tribune reports.
Friot overturned millions of dollars in judgments awarded to the tribe and ordered the arbitration council, the tribe and its leaders to pay $63,000 in damages to Uintah County in Utah.
One of the phony judgments was a $250 million award against Uintah County Attorney JoAnn Stringham for prosecuting one of the group’s members for driving with a license plate issued by the tribe rather than the state.
Friot was assigned to hear the case because the tribe had sued Utah federal judges or sought to remove them from the case. Friot ruled in a counterclaim filed by the county after a group member sought to enforce one of the judgments.
The tribe apparently collected no money but damaged credit records, the story says.