MANHATTAN (CN) – Three chiefs of the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe claim The New York Post defamed them in an unsigned editorial that accused the tribe of being “a criminal organization that engages in shooting violence with law enforcement officials, wide-scale smuggling of illegal liquor, cigarettes, guns, and illegal aliens.” The Post printed two editorials opposing a proposed state partnership with the Mohawks and a private company to build a $600 million casino at Monticello Raceway in the Catskills.
The quoted material above is from the Mohawks’ summary of the Post editorial, in the chiefs’ claim in New York County Court. Plaintiffs Barbara Lazore, James Ransom and Lorraine White cite these quotations from the Post’s editorial:
“… doing a deal with this particular tribe – with its extended history of often-violent criminality – is a travesty.”
“Over the past eight years, the feds have cited the St. Regis Mohawks in connection with a $687 million smuggling operation involving illegal liquor, cigarettes and guns.
“They’ve also done a brisk business smuggling people – transporting more than 3,600 illegal aliens from China into America through the St. Regis reservation … .
“They’ve also occasionally engaged in shoot-outs with the New York State Police, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Canadian army.
“Not exactly good neighbors, we’d say.”
The three elected chiefs claims the allegations are defamatory, that the Post “failed to sufficiently investigate its statements” and “lacked any reason to believe in the truth of the allegations”. They claim the Post defamed them again in a Jan. 8 editorial that praised Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne for killing the casino plan.
The Jan. 8 editorial mentioned “the tribe’s longstanding links to crime and violence,” the inadvisability “of offering it legal entrée into the gambling world,” the smuggling allegations, and stated, “it makes no sense whatsoever to invite what amounts to a criminal enterprise to run the joint”.
The plaintiffs demand $20 million. They are represented by Barr & Associates.