- Associated Press - Friday, October 31, 2014

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) - A federal appeals court on Friday upheld the conviction of a former Mashantucket Pequot chairman who was found guilty of embezzling more than $100,000 from the tribe.

Michael Thomas, whose tribe owns and operates the Foxwoods Resort Casino in southeastern Connecticut, began serving an 18-month prison sentence in January.

A jury last year found him guilty of charges that he stole the money by using a tribe-issued credit card for personal expenses.

Thomas had argued to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that his trial was not fair because he was blocked from preventing certain evidence. For instance, Thomas couldn’t argue that he had a history of reimbursing personal expenses that he charged to a tribe-issued credit card.

But the appeals court said the contested evidence was not relevant and introducing it could have confused the jury.

“Here, it is undisputed that Thomas did not reimburse the Tribe for any of the over $100,000 in personal expenses that he charged to his card between October 2007 and September 2009 - despite the fact that he was not indicted until January 2013,” the court wrote.

Michael Thomas’ brother, former tribal treasurer Steven Thomas, was also convicted of theft. He admitted misapplying $177,603 for his personal benefit by falsifying time cards in 2007 when he was assistant director of the tribe’s natural resources department. A judge spared him prison time when he was sentenced, saying she was impressed by his reform before the investigation.


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