Miko Beasley Denson leaving a Tribal Council meeting after the FBI raid was discussed Tuesday.
Miko Beasley Denson leaving a Tribal Council meeting after the FBI raid was discussed Tuesday.
A search warrant executed by the FBI at Pearl River Resort on Tuesday could be related to election fraud, multiple sources told The Neshoba Democrat.

The Choctaw Tribal Council was briefed on the raid that same morning after a Neshoba Democrat reporter was asked to leave the meeting and did.

About 40 agents arrived at the Resort at about 7:30 a.m. and were copying computer drives and gathering other information. They were expected to be there well into the evening.

The investigation centered around the Golden Moon and Silver Star casinos and did not involve any Tribal government offices, a source said.

By mid-afternoon Pearl River Resort CEO Maj. Gen. Paul Harvey had issued a release that said the "resort is monitoring the situation closely and will continue to cooperate fully" with law enforcement authorities in their investigation.

"There will be no interruption in the operation of business at the Resort," he said.

News of the FBI raid spread quickly from Resort employees, some of whom were sent home.

"They are also pulling out hard drives and taking documents," one employee said.

Another source said all employees in financial offices had been isolated and placed in a separate room.

Brook Pirtle wrote on the Democrat's Facebook page that "all computers, financial records and phone records are being seized."

Ty Breedlove, a spokesman for the FBI in Jackson, would not comment on the investigation.

"We cannot comment on that matter at this time," he said.

The Choctaw Tribal Council was briefed on the FBI investigation in a meeting Tuesday morning closed to the press.

A Neshoba Democrat reporter was asked to leave, although the council had declined to go into executive session.

Choctaw Attorney General Donald L. Kilgore told the council they needed to discuss "why the FBI is here."

One Tribal Council member mentioned computer hard drives being taken before the Democrat reporter was dismissed.

Miko Beasley Denson asked that the matter be discussed in executive session.

However, Tribal Council member Kevin Edwards objected, saying he wanted the entire Tribe to know what's going on.

Denson disagreed.

"The protection of the Tribe is vital to our survival," Denson told the council. "The governor would love to hear this simply because he would want to close down Bogue Homa."

Denson then tried to force through a vote to recess the meeting, sparking a comment from Councilman Roger Anderson.

"You are not a good leader," Anderson said.

The council voted 12-4 to remain in open session, amid shouting and name-calling at the meeting.

When Edwards asked Kilgore to continue with the update on the FBI's presence, Council member Berdie Steve excused herself from the meeting.

"The Tribe cannot give out critical information to their competitors," she said.

Pearl River Tribal Council member Cyrus Ben then asked the Democrat reporter to leave the room.

A few minutes later, Miko Denson walked out of the meeting.

Ben told the Democrat Tuesday afternoon that he was just trying to protect the Tribe and its interests in case something negative was said.

"I did not mean any harm," he said. Ben said he supports open government and transparency.

"We are in the dark as much as you are," he said of the FBI raid on the casino.

A Tribal member who stayed for the meeting said that Miko told Kilgore: "You better not discuss this to any of the council until you come to my office."

At the same meeting, Kevin Edwards was elected Vice Chief. Ben was elected secretary/treasurer and Greg Shumake, coordinator.

Also on Tuesday, before the new Tribal Council members were sworn in, some members of the previous council attempted to introduce a measure to reconsider the decision to throw out the results of the recent Tribal election.

Councilwoman Ann Wesley attempted to bring forward the measure but was stopped by Miko Denson who overruled the measure, saying she was out of order.

Councilwoman Phyliss Anderson then attempted to overrule Denson.

However, Attorney Kilgore said that to overrule Denson, a two-thirds vote had to be reached.

When the votes were cast, eight members voted to overrule Denson and eight voted against.

An unidentified Tribal member in the audience commented, saying that to overrule the election issue "would have been a disservice to the Tribe."

Attempts to reach Denson were unsuccessful.

His calls were being  redirected to the Tribe's public information office where they weren't being returned.

The mood at the Tribal Office was reserved Tuesday afternoon. Tribal members declined to share their feelings towards the recent events, instead opting for silence.