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Judge: Tribal leader must turn over financial records or face jail

MIAMI, Nov. 4 (UPI) -- A Native American tribal leader in Florida will be jailed if he keeps defying an order to turn over financial documents, a judge warned Monday.

The U.S. Department of Justice asked U.S. District Judge Kathleen Williams to issue contempt-of-court sanctions against Miccosukee Tribe Chairman Colley Billie for failing to supply documents and answers about the personal tax liabilities of his predecessor, Billy Cypress.

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Although Williams did not impose the sanctions in court Monday, she ordered Billie and the tribe's lawyers to reach an agreement this week with the Justice Department and the Internal Revenue Service over a 2012 demand for tribal financial records as they pertain to Cypress.

The IRS, which has been investigating the Miami-area tribe, alleges Cypress failed to pay potentially millions of dollars of income taxes on allegedly unreported income between 2003 and 2010.

That Billie must defend himself against potential sanctions is rich with irony, The Miami Herald commented Monday, noting after he became tribal leader he fired attorneys who represented the tribe during Cypress' tenure, authorized the tribe to sue those lawyers for alleged malpractice and directed the tribe to sue Cypress for allegedly embezzling $26 million over the past decade.

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The IRS is targeting the tribe for allege failure to withhold potentially millions of dollars in income taxes from distributions of casino profits to tribe members, and has thus far placed a $170 million lien on the tribe for back taxes, interest and penalties, the newspaper said.

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