Thursday , February 22 2024

Tribal Police Chief Turns Himself In; Other Suspects' Bail Remain High

Another suspect wanted in the Chukchansi Casino raid from Oct. 9 turned himself in at the Madera County Court Wednesday morning.

John Oliviera, the tribal police chief for the McDonald faction, is now behind bars.

Several other suspects, including faction leader Tex McDonald, appeared in court for a bail review.

Outside the courtroom, McDonald faction suppporters yelled as rival faction member Reggie Lewis walked by. Supporters are angry that McDonald and faction member Vernon King remain locked up.

“[Reggie] Lewis and [Nancy] Ayala are in our casino and there’s money missing. I’m absolutely outraged that the judge even set their (McDonald and King’s) bail so high,” says Monica Davis, the acting chairwoman of the McDonald faction.

Inside the courtroom, the judge did not allow video to be taken but allowed photos.

The judge would not adjust McDonald’s bail of $2.45 million, saying he has two prior convictions. Bail for King remains at $1.75 million.

“Where’s the safety for the inmates?” asks Janette Sample, McDonald’s partner. She says she’s concerned about security in the jail after McDonald was badly injured in a fight.

“You can see he got a slice on his neck, and he got hit on the side,” Sample says.

“I talked to the corrections officials last night and they assured me that they had segregated him so that that couldn’t happen again,” says Jeff Reich, defense attorney for McDonald and King.

Meanwhile, Oliveira is now being held on a $.25 million bail.

For the defense, the question of jurisdiction still hangs.

“It’s our position that our clients are in jail illegally–that the Madera system does not have jurisdiction,” Reich says.

Reich says his clients notified the district attorney’s office before the attemped takeover and acted on the advice of their lawyers.

Supporters say the wrong people are behind bars.

But Cindy Cruz, who is employed by STC Security and was working as casino security staff the day of the raid, says she feels her rights were violated.

“I’m getting grabbed by a couple guys, twisting my arm, putting it behind my back, trying to slam me on the ground for no reason–didn’t even identify themselves at all to me, didn’t say who they were,” Cruz says.

The judge lowered bail for the other suspects, Miguel Ramos and Tyrone Bishop, to $500,000 each.

Some of the suspects, including McDonald and King, will be back in court Friday for a status hearing.

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