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McArthur out as manager of Shooting Star

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The Shooting Star Casino general manager is no longer on the job, and is not expected to return, according to several tribal sources.

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White Earth Tribal Council members declined to comment on their decision to remove Eugene "Bugger" McArthur, and said he has been asked to take a leave of absence since June 14.

A call to the casino and a request to talk to the casino manager led a reporter to Gaming Director Jack Fabre, who said he is currently serving as interim general manager of the casino. He said he could not comment on the status of McArthur, and referred a reporter to tribal administrators, who were not available for comment.

A tribal official cited "gaming issues" as the reason for an ongoing investigation at the casino involving McArthur.

In a brief interview, McArthur scoffed at that as a reason for his dismissal.

"It's all politics, you know that," he said. "You live in the real world don't you? ... There was no reason to terminate me. Absolutely none whatsoever."

He said he was notified of his dismissal through a letter from White Earth Chairwoman Erma Vizenor.

According to a Facebook page aiming to oust McArthur -- called "86 Bugger" -- White Earth member Lucille Silk wrote that the tribal council voted 4-1 to remove McArthur and that he plans to appeal his termination.

When asked by a reporter to confirm the vote and identify which member voted in favor of McArthur, Vizenor declined to comment.

"It's a personnel issue right now, that's all I'm going to divulge," she said.

McArthur, who was the general manager at the Shooting Star Casino for the past two years, said he has hired an attorney. He said he would like to give his side of the story to the newspaper, but first has to get the go-ahead from the attorney.

McArthur ran unsuccessfully for tribal secretary-treasurer in the recent White Earth election, losing to tribal housing director Robert Durant. During the campaign, McArthur's wife submitted a letter to the editor critical of Vizenor and others on the tribal council.

In a response letter, Vizenor noted that McArthur had wrongfully fired a handful of casino employees, and that those employees had successfully sued for redress in tribal court.

"The large number of terminations at Shooting Star Casino will not continue," Vizenor said in her letter. "The toll has been money and morale. These 'at will' terminations by Bugger are not the policy of the White Earth tribal government.

"The five employees who were fired nearly two years ago were in Tribal Court. An out-of-court settlement was reached and the tribe has to pay for these firings. Per court order, the amount cannot be disclosed," Vizenor wrote.

"Another tribal manager at Shooting Star Casino will be in court this week for termination. The manager's employment record of 18 years is absolutely clean. No doubt the tribe will have to pay again," she added.

McArthur served a brief stint as tribal chairman in the turbulent times that followed the political end of long-time Tribal Chairman Chip Wadena.

McArthur recently paid the tribe $20,000, allegedly to settle a claim involving a tribal vehicle from that time.

McArthur also has more recent legal troubles:

A civil suit was filed last month in Becker County District Court by David Gatto against Impact Energy LLC, and its principals, which it says are McArthur and Michael LaDue.

Impact Energy, which lists a Detroit Lakes business address, was working on projects in China involving waste gasification conversion to electricity, according to the civil suit.

Gatto alleges that he provided a $150,000 short-term loan in February of 2006 that was not repaid by Impact Energy, and that he lost another $50,000 that the two men told him had been misappropriated by a Chinese official during a business trip.

In the fall of 2006, Gatto allegedly became concerned that the business effort in China was not going as well as he was being told.

A professor at Bemidji State University identified as Dr. Chang "began to frequently contact (Gatto) about reports coming out of China that defendants were misusing the funds provided for the China business opportunity," according to the civil suit. Gatto tried to contact McArthur to clear up those concerns, but McArthur allegedly refused to meet with him.

The suit asks the court to freeze any bank accounts belonging to the defendant and to issue a restraining order to prohibit sale of any property belonging to Impact Energy.

Gatto's attorney is C. Alden Pearson of Vadnais Heights, who did not return phone messages.

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