The FBI conducted a search on the Shinnecock Indian Reservation Wednesday in an ongoing probe, the bureau confirmed.
Peter Donald, spokesman for the FBI, declined to say what specifically the investigation involved. "We can confirm we are doing a search in connection with an FBI investigation," Donald said. "It's ongoing."
Newsday last year reported that tribal members ousted from office had alleged the tribal government and its financial casino backer had stolen their emails to put together a case accusing them of conducting unauthorized business on behalf of the nation. Sources at the time said the FBI was investigating the claims. Donald declined to comment on those claims.
An FBI spokeswoman later added that the bureau was conducting multiple searches as part of a cyber investigation.
More than a dozen FBI agents and State Police officers were in and around the tribal government's gaming authority trailer at 10 a.m. Tribal members stood nearby in groups at the Shinnecock community center, where two State Police sport utility vehicles were parked near the entrance.
Earlier this year, two ousted trustees, Lance Gumbs and Gordell Wright, filed a request with the National Indian Gaming Commission for an investigation, alleging interference with tribal government operations and elections by Gateway Casino Resorts, the tribe's casino backers. Gateway has denied those claims.
Gumbs and Wright, along with two gaming authority members and another tribal member, have denied any improprieties. Gumbs and Wright ran unsuccessfully for trustee positions in April, when a new roster of leaders was voted into office.
Gumbs, a former trustee who has accused other tribal members and Gateway of a "political coup" to oust him, said he looked forward to results of the FBI's probe. "This all needs to come out so people know what the truth is," he said.
Brad Smith, a tribal trustee who stood at the door of the tribal community center during the FBI search, declined to comment and ordered a reporter to leave the reservation.
In addition to the gaming authority trailer, agents also conducted a search at the reservation home of Karen Crippen-Hunter, treasurer of the Shinnecock gaming authority, according to a tribal member and a person familiar with the investigation. A call to Crippen-Hunter was not returned.