Two accused of bilking Pechanga tribe of $4 million

Two men, an insurance broker and the former chief financial officer for the Pechanga Resort and Casino, have been accused in a $4 million fraud of the tribe and taken into custody in Riverside County, authorities reported.


A grand jury indictment was unsealed Thursday in Riverside County Superior Court. The indictment accuses James William Riley, 46, and Ryan Jay Robinson, 39, of grand theft and commercial bribery. Riley also was accused of money laundering. The two were taken into custody on Tuesday, according to a statement issued by the tribe. The indictment targets events in 2006-07.


Riley served as insurance broker for a majority of the insurance for the Pechanga Tribe. Robinson is the former chief financial officer for the Pechanga Resort & Casino and Tribal Government Center.


“People may assume that as large amounts of money change hands illegally the corporations involved and law enforcement might not notice,” District Attorney Rod Pacheco stated. “They’re wrong. They will be caught and they will be prosecuted.”


“The integrity of our Tribe and operations is paramount to Pechanga, which is why we moved swiftly to conduct a thorough independent investigation and provide all of the evidence we gathered to law enforcement,” Pechanga Tribal Chairman Mark Macarro said. “We have a profound respect for the rule of law, thus we will continue to fully assist law enforcement with this investigation.”


The indictment alleges that Riley took advantage of the precarious circumstances within the insurance market created by Hurricane Katrina by misrepresenting the amounts of insurance premiums. In doing so he overcharged the Pechanga Development Center by more than $4 million.


The indictment further states that Robinson received a kick-back from Riley of more than $100,000 dollars in exchange for overlooking Riley’s actions. The money that Riley gave Robinson was moved through multiple accounts before being withdrawn in the form of cashier’s checks.


The defendants are scheduled to be arraigned Feb. 18 in the Riverside Superior Court.



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