Ex-Quapaw tribal leaders indicted for embezzlement

Chairman John Berreynew
Former chairman John Berrey

QUAPAW, Okla. – The Quapaw Nation indicts two former tribal leaders for embezzlement, conspiracy, abuse of office and other charges.

Former chairman John Berrey and former secretary treasurer Tamara Smiley-Reeves are facing a total of 18 indictments. The alleged offenses happened between April 2014 and July 2020.

Quapaw Nation internal audit

According to court documents, the Quapaw Nation Gaming Authority requested Innovative Gaming Solutions (IGS) to conduct an internal audit last year. They received allegations of improper bonuses paid to tribal leaders and casino executives.
IGS initially ran into issues getting information. They determined it was because the audit was happening right before the July 25, 2020 election. Several leadership positions were up for reelection. They decided to continue to the audit after the election.

Berrey, a 20 year incumbent, and Smiley-Reeves, lost their bids for reelection. Joseph Tali Byrd and Guy Barker defeated them.

Audit results

According to court documents, auditors found salaries and bonuses in the millions without approval from the Quapaw business committee. Court documents also allege some of the defendants took thousands from gaming operations.

Statements and additional details from the Quapaw Nation:

According to court documents, Chairman Berrey and Secretary Treasurer Reeves allowed the issuance of more than 70 company credit cards to numerous individuals, employees, agents, consultants and vendors not employed by Downstream Casino Resort or the Quapaw Nation.

Indictments and court documents

In addition to Berrey and Smiley-Reeves, several employees and people involved in Berrey’s administration are also facing civil charges. Those individuals include Jack Brill, Tena Smith, Janet Cummings, Sheri Smiley, Marilyn Rogers and George McWatters.

The charges against Berrey and Smiley-Reeves were filed in Quapaw Nation Court on Friday, April 16, 2021.

An initial court appearance is set for May 6, 2021.

Berry’s attorney, Rory Dilweg of Ocotillo Law and Policy Partners, LLP, sent the following statement to KOAM:

“We are aware that the Quapaw Nation’s Special Prosecutor has filed a criminal complaint against John Berrey for alleged violations of the Quapaw Law and Order Code. Mr. Berrey denies all of the complaint’s allegations, and he looks forward to clearing his name in court.”

The following are court documents in the case:

This article will be updated with additional details, including court documents, as they are received.