Ex-Seminole Nation official indicted

Muskogee, Oklahoma (AP) 3-08

A former Seminole Nation Council member has been indicted for allegedly taking bribes from the tribe’s casino financier.

A federal grand jury issued the indictment against Ricky Van Deer, 48, accusing him of soliciting payments based on his power to impact the tribe’s business transactions. He received 16 payments totaling $44,100 between 2000 and 2004, the indictment alleges.

In return, Deer took actions to benefit Ivy Kwok Ong, who controlled and operated the tribe’s casino partner, Carlo World Wide Operations, according to the indictment.

These actions included Deer’s support in 2000 for a one-year contract to place Carlo machines in the tribe’s travel center at Interstate 40 and Oklahoma Highway 99 and to expand the adjacent casino.

Under the contract, Carlo received 40 percent of the Seminole Nation’s total take from gambling machines from 2000 to 2004. The tribe had four casinos, all in Seminole County.

Deer was a member of the tribal council and its business arm, the Seminole Nation Development Authority. He faces one count of conspiracy to pay and receive illegal gratuities and a count of obstruction of the due administration of justice.

Ong, 65, of El Paso, Texas, pleaded guilty last year to counts of conspiracy to commit tax evasion and conspiracy to pay and receive illegal gratuities. He hasn’t been sentenced.

No one else has been charged.