QUAPAW – Two former Quapaw Tribal officials are scheduled to appear in tribal court on Thursday for a pre-trial hearing on charges they misappropriated $7 million in tribal funds.
Former Quapaw Chairman John Berrey and former Secretary-Treasurer Tamara Smiley-Reeves were indicted in 2021. Berrey faces 11 criminal counts in tribal court, while Smiley-Reeves faces eight counts.
Berrey denied any wrongdoing calling the accusations, “made up, and it is strictly political,” in a statement released in 2021.
Their court appearance is scheduled for 1 p.m.
Court documents said an audit showed between Dec. 2019 and May 2021 numerous inappropriate payments, gifts, and expenses using tribal gaming money, including a $1.5 million bonus paid to Berrey in six $250,000 installments from Saracen Casino funds.
Berrey also had 11 unauthorized Downstream Casino bonuses totaling over $1.1 million and seven unauthorized bonuses from Saracen Casino totaling over $1.6 million, according to an affidavit.
Reeves had seven unauthorized Downstream Casino bonuses totaling $458,688.17 and seven unauthorized bonuses from Saracen Casino totaling almost $1 million, the affidavit states.
The investigation found “significant payments” made to Berrey’s spiritual advisor and relatives, the affidavit states.
The investigation allegedly uncovered questionable payments for a private Little Rock, Ark. Apartment, hunting trips, questionable political contributions, and casino funds were used for air travel, concert tickets, and sporting events, the affidavit states.
Each indictment carries a possible 3-year prison sentence according to court documents.