Two Ute Council Members Ousted After Filing Suit

Two Ute Council Members Ousted After Filing Suit

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Two members of the Ute tribe's governing Business Committee have been ousted after filing suit, alleging tribal financial resources were being raided.

Luke Duncan and Ron Wopsock filed suit in U.S. District Court last month contending that John Jurrius, the tribe's non-Indian financial adviser, had substantially driven down cash incomes and entered into agreements without providing full accounting of transactions.

The suit was filed against the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs, alleging a lack of oversight as provided by federal law and a conflict of interest by the tribe's trustee.

A representative for the BIA said she could not comment on pending litigation.

Maxine Natchees, Business Committee chairwoman, confirmed Thursday the two were removed by the committee's remaining four members, who alleged gross misconduct by the pair.

Committee members are free to inquire about financial transactions, but the tribe's financial plan -- adopted by public referendum -- cannot be challenged in court. "We believe they went beyond the scope of their responsibility," Natchees said.

A special election to fill their seats will be called in the coming month, she said.

Duncan said he and Wopsock would challenge the ouster, adding, "We are not challenging the tribe. We're challenging the trustee" -- the BIA.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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