Miccosukee Tribe's federal lawsuit against former chairman dismissed

Oct. 3, 2013 at 2:21 PM
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MIAMI, Oct. 3 (UPI) -- A federal judge has ruled a lawsuit by the Miccosukee Tribe in South Florida should be heard in a state court or tribal court.

U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke, in a ruling issued Monday, dismissed the lawsuit, The Miami Herald reported. The tribe charged that its former chairman, Billy Cypress, with the help of a group of hired professionals, violated federal racketeering laws.

The defendants included two former U.S. attorneys, Guy Lewis and Dexter Lehtinen, husband of U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla. The lawsuit also named the Miami office of Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, the tribe's broker.

. "Despite every effort of the Miccosukee Tribe to bring this battle to the doorstep of the federal courthouse, the door cannot open to allow an intra-tribal dispute of this nature," Cooke said.

In her 19-page ruling, she urged the tribe to consider the cost of endless litigation, quoting Mahatma Gandhi's remark that "an eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind." But the judge did not seem optimistic.

"I am quite certain that this omnibus order will affect minimally the incessant litigation and sour relations between the parties," Cooke said.

The tribe has a separate state suit against Lehtinen alleging malpractice. The Miccosukee say that in more than two decades as chairman Billy Cypress spent millions of dollars in tribal funds financing a gambling habit and living expensively.

The Miccosukee split from the Seminole tribe and were recognized by the federal government in 1962. The tribe operates a large casino and resort west of Miami.

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