By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Beyond the FBI’s casino probe

First, an anonymously sourced blockbuster from a man who’s amassed an admirable track record in getting to the bottom of the mess involving the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe and the proposed Middleborough casino. Cape Cod Today blogger/ reporter Peter Kenney posted an item earlier this morning saying that the new tribal council president, Shawn Hendricks, and council member Desire Hendricks Moreno may resign this afternoon. This, of course, comes in the wake of news that the FBI is investigating the tribe’s finances, about which more below.

Now, then, back to my regularly scheduled post. The proposed casino — which would be the largest in the world, according to the Brockton Enterprise — has been dead since Aug. 23. That’s when Kenney confirmed his earlier report that Glenn Marshall, president of the tribal council, had lied about his military record, and had been convicted of rape in the 1980s as well.

The next day, the story was all over the media, and by the following week Marshall was gone. But only the casino’s most ardent supporters, joined perhaps by a few political naifs, failed to realize what had happened. The lid had been lifted off a barrel of sleaze, and practically every day has brought a new story. And there is still plenty more to come.

Now comes word, in today’s Boston Globe, Boston Herald and Cape Cod Times, that the FBI is investigating the tribe’s finances. Once again, I’m in awe of Kenney’s sources. He first got wind of this on Wednesday, and posted a more detailed story yesterday morning.

The crucial issue here is whether the probe is aimed at Marshall alone, or at the entire tribal leadership. Based on a preponderance of what we know, it would seem to be the latter. That, of course, would include Hendricks, Marshall’s handpicked successor, who would be removed if a recall effort being led by tribal elder Amelia Bingham and her son Steven succeeds (unless he resigns, of course).

For instance, here’s what Kenney reported yesterday: “Presented to council chairman Shawn Hendricks, treasurer Nelli Ramos and council member Desire Hendricks Moreno were formal demands for the council’s financial records as well as personal financial records from all three officials.”

In the Herald, reporter Dave Wedge has the same information and attributes it to an on-the-record source, tribal spokeswoman Amy Lambiaso. Lambiaso does describe it as “an investigation into Glenn Marshall,” but obviously the feds are seeking information that could reflect on other tribal leaders as well.

In the Globe, reporters Sean Murphy and Christine Wallgren offer a slightly different interpretation, writing:

Amy Lambiaso, a spokeswoman for the tribe, said the investigation focuses on Glenn Marshall, the former tribal chairman….

“It’s our understanding it is an investigation into Glenn Marshall and not any of the other tribe members,” she said.

Fair enough. But again, it does not appear that the feds can do their job unless they’re also looking at what the other tribal leaders knew and when they knew it.

The most detailed overview of what’s going on right now is provided in the Cape Cod Times by reporters George Brennan and Stephanie Vosk. Not only do they report on the FBI probe, but they also get into a separate IRS investigation of Marshall, as well as an inquiry launched by the state attorney general, Martha Coakley. Not to sound like a broken record, but Kenney has been all over these developments as well.

Also not to sound like a broken record, but how can Gov. Deval Patrick step up and offer his support for casino gambling given what’s going on in Southeastern Massachusetts? This is what you get when you embrace gambling. Nothing that’s happened is surprising, except that it all came out so quickly following the two votes by Middleborough town meeting (yes to a casino deal; no to a casino) on July 28.

This week The Pilot, the weekly paper published by Boston’s Catholic archdiocese, runs a terrific editorial on why casino gambling needs to be stopped, whether it’s in Middleborough, Palmer or East Boston. (Media Nation trivia: I worked as the production manager of The Pilot for a few months in late 1990 and early ’91.) A Middleborough resident who’s worried about the possible destruction of his town called it to my attention. Here’s a highlight:

Casino advertisements frequently depict casino gambling as a fleeting, joyous experience amidst a wonderland of entertainment and excitement. However, what is portrayed as an occasional weekend getaway all too often becomes an uncontrollable compulsion that can lead to broken families, bankruptcy and even suicide.

Studies show that instances of crime, prostitution and bankruptcy increase around casinos. Those living on fixed income, particularly the elderly and the poor, are easily lured by their promise of quick money and often spend money needed for essentials on gambling.

Gambling addiction is a self-destructive behavior that has dire consequences.

The fight against the Middleborough casino isn’t about mindless NIMBYism. The best possible outcome is to keep casino gambling out of Massachusetts — period. If people want to gamble in Connecticut or Rhode Island, let them. That’s not a reason for us to lower our standards.

My standard disclosure.

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  1. JonGarfunkel

    All very interesting.Dan wrote: “The most detailed overview of what’s going on right now is provided in the Cape Cod Times by reporters George Brennan and Stephanie Vosk.”The Cape Cod Times wrote last week announcing the CasinoWatch blog: “We launch this new blog with a guest column by media writer Dan Kennedy whose MediaNation is perhaps the best of all sources for information about this subject.”No problem with that…but it seems like “the best coverage” would include a timeline of what happened when, and who broke what when (CCT has a rough timeline of Glenn Marshall’s career). Despite the great advances in information architecture, it’s impossible to quickly browse the CCT coverage given the multiple channels they are publishing in, let alone reading the one blog here. (The scroll format was supplemented by an index centuries ago … why does the blog publishers continue to ignore practical information design?)

  2. Dan Kennedy

    Jon: I was clearly saying that the best round-up of what’s going on today is in that one story in the Cape Cod Times. Very comprehensive. I wasn’t talking about past coverage, archives or the like.By the way, the CasinoWatch blog you’re referring to is at Cape Cod Today, not the Cape Cod Times. You make it look like the Times and I are engaged in back-scratching. Not at all.

  3. Anonymous

    Given the Governor’s cordial relations with Mr.& Mrs. Clinton and their contributors, it would appear that he has a strong stomach. Marginally defensible gambling interests would not seem to be a big problem. It would, however, be the death knell for any hopes he has of being appointed AG in a new Clinton administration.

  4. JonGarfunkel

    Mea culpa! I’d been digging through much of this stuff in the morning; I abbreviated “CCT” at one point, and then it got in my head that it was the Cape Cod Times, and I got confused that they were one and the same. Shows you how much I know about the Cape Cod press. (Ok, at least I can *find* the cape on the map, and know how to get back home via 28A.) CC Times is a newspaper; CC Today is a website with 116 blogs, and 25 active in the last week, and Kenney is posting his breaking news to two of them.Right, my comment did make it seem like I was alleging back-scratching. Whoops. There’s been great work on the story all around (“No problem with that…” as I wrote above). I was just trying to get a grip on it all– there’s no single timeline of who reported what when.Now over to *your* point. I guess the Governor is waiting for this whole thing to run its course (implode) and then merely bring out a room to sweep up the ashes.As part of the “If I wanted to gamble, Connecticut isn’t that far away” faction, I’m happy that this sordid mess is being exposed.

  5. Anonymous

    Check your facts, Dan, which Kenney might want to do occasionally, too. The Binghams aren’t part of the recall effort and since it only takes 100 voters, it’s curious why it’s taking so long.Also, Peter Kenney reports that the FBI was looking for Marshall and he was missing.The Cape Cod Times reports that Marshall was at his East Falmouth home last night, barking at a reporter to get off his property. Not exactly on the lam. Maybe Kenney was confused with Whitey. That comes with age.

  6. Peter Porcupine

    Um…Anon…turns out it WAS the FBI, not the BIA, looking for him. So how old are YOU?

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