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Tribal treasurer again pleads not guilty to theft charges in updated indictment

By Brian Hallenbeck

Publication: theday.com

Published September 19. 2013 6:00PM   Updated September 19. 2013 11:47PM

New Haven — Steven Thomas, the Mashantucket Pequot treasurer indicted on federal theft charges more than eight months ago, again pleaded not guilty Thursday to the same charges, now part of an updated indictment that supersedes the first.

Thomas, 39, appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Joan G. Margolis, who ruled that he could continue to remain free on the same $100,000 bond she set at his initial arraignment in January. Thomas’ trial is scheduled to take place in November.

The superseding indictment, returned by a grand jury Sept. 6, contains new details related to the government’s allegations that Thomas stole more than $700,000 from the tribe while employed as assistant director of the tribe’s Department of Natural Resources Protection from January 2005 through June 2008.

During that period, the superseding indictment says, “Thomas submitted false weekly time cards to the MPTN (Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation) that falsely reported the hours he worked. Thomas was paid by the MPTN based upon those false weekly time cards.”

Thomas is charged with one count of theft from an Indian tribal organization and two counts of theft concerning an Indian tribal government receiving federal funds. The first count carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison followed by up to three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000. Each of the other two counts calls for a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison followed by up to three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000.

The superseding indictment came in response to Thomas’ motion, filed in June, that the case be dismissed. In the motion, Thomas’ attorney, Richard Reeve, argued that the charges against his client are “fatally flawed” due to a lack of specificity. Reeve contended the government should be compelled to provide details of the specific acts it’s alleging.

In a filing last week, Reeve continued to assert most of the claims made in the motion to dismiss, writing that the superseding indictment “modifies the original indictment in relatively minor ways.”

Reeve and the chief prosecutor in the case, Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Mattei, are expected to argue the motion to dismiss at an Oct. 3 hearing before U.S. District Judge Janet Bond Arterton.

b.hallenbeck@theday.com

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