Tag Archive | tribe’s gambling

Clifton wind farm project sent back

A Superior Court judge affirmed most of the Clifton planning board’s October 2011 decision to approve a $25 million wind farm on Pisgah Mountain, but also remanded the matter back to planners to review tower heights and sound levels.

“It’s a real victory — the first victory — for us,” Peter Beckford, who opposes the project, said Tuesday.

Beckford and his wife, Julie, owners of Rebel Hill Farm, filed an appeal in Penobscot County Superior Court in March 2012 to stop the permitted five-turbine Pisgah Mountain wind farm proposed by Bangor residents Paul and Sandy Fuller and partners.

Fuller said the judge’s decision is just another bump in the road for the project, which has been in the works for more than three years.

During the oral arguments, the Beckfords’ attorney argued preconstruction sound level figures and isocontour maps were not submitted, that sound levels submitted exceeded permitted levels, that the land use code is vague regarding wind turbine heights and that two cabins put up on the Beckfords’ land are within the 4,000-foot wind tower setbacks.

They also questioned the financial capacity of the developers, whether enough decommissioning money had been set aside and the environmental impacts of the 450-foot tall turbines.

“He affirmed the planning board’s decisions on the setbacks of the cabins and he also affirmed their decisions on the environmental impacts, financial capability and decommissioning,” David Szewczyk, the town’s attorney, said. “Basically, all the issues except for two. The one thing the planning board has to do is provide additional findings of fact.”

The town, the Beckfords and the developer all hired their own sound consultants to test and review sound levels, and Horton determined that it is not clear how the planning board made their decision.

The town’s 28-page wind turbine ordinance is very specific and has very strict sound levels that are even lower than those set by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, and Horton agreed with the Beckfords “that the low frequency levels exceeded the [Clifton Land Use Ordinance] limits.”

“The arithmetic is on the Beckfords’ side,” Peter Beckford said.

The judge also added that, “The Town and Pisgah contend that the estimates [used] were ‘generated from highly conservative assumptions that drastically, and deliberately, overstated the actual amount of sound that would be generated, including low frequency.’ This response in effect suggests that the results should be ignored. It does not suffice.”

The sound study used by the town also “did not include the narratives, did not include the iso-maps, and applied the MDEP tonal penalty rather than the [Clifton Land Use Ordinance] tonal penalty,” the judge said.

For those reasons, Horton remanded the project back to planners.

“It certainly isn’t bad news,” said Fuller’s attorney, Bill Devoe of Eaton Peabody in Bangor. “The two issues left at this point are [turbine] height and low frequency sound data, and [they] are both easily answered in the confines of the ordinance.

“It’s a project of significant scope and complexity,” he said. “It’s not surprising that the court needs more from the planning board.”

Fuller said he is already on the June planning board agenda to address the court’s concerns.“Besides that, we’re shovel ready,” he said.


NYPD Takes Down Cocaine-Delivery Ring

Dozens of alleged drug dealers who delivered cocaine to investment bankers, college students and public housing residents have been arrested in an NYPD sting operation, officials said.

In total, 41 members of three drug crews operating out of city public housing in Manhattan were indicted. They offered doorstep delivery, NYPD officials and state prosecutors said Friday.

“As this indictment reveals, residents of Manhattan today can get nearly everything delivered,” said Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance. “From dinner to dry cleaning, and even cocaine.”

The crews used livery drivers to make deliveries of cocaine, which had been marked up to more than twice the normal street value, Vance said.

Customers could buy small packets of cocaine for as little as $120 or pay $5,600 for four ounces, officials said.

“At a minimum, $1.2 million worth of cocaine was sold over the course of the two-year investigation,” NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly said.

“Cocaine was delivered by runners who were dropped at customers’ doorsteps by a network of livery cabdrivers who were also in on the action,” he said.

Asked whether drug deliveries were made to investment houses or locations on Wall Street, Kelly did not offer specifics. He said the investigation into the ring’s various customers was continuing. He said there would be more arrests.

Vance said wiretapped conversations indicated that there was discussion about using superstorm Sandy rent-rebate money to buy drugs, but there was no evidence of that actually happening.

Four people were charged under the state drug kingpin law, which carries a maximum life prison term. They include Adrian “Ace” Rivera, 24, of Baruch House in Manhattan, who allegedly sold cocaine to undercover detectives and was popular on social media sites flashing money, Kelly said.

Rivera’s activity led investigators to target the three drug rings: Blocc Boyz, Money Boyz and Cash is King, Kelly said.

A key to making the case was the use of search warrants to get information from Facebook and other social media accounts, said Kelly, who explained that most of those arrested, including a number of young women, knew each other from high school.


Attorney general vs. Creeks now in federal court

An attempt by Alabama’s attorney general to shut down three casinos operated by the Poarch Band of Creek Indians has shifted to federal court, where a judge will have to decide if the state’s top prosecutor can challenge the tribe’s gambling.

Attorney General Luther Strange initially filed suit in Elmore County, where the tribe operates one of its three casinos. The suit was filed on Feb. 19, the same day the attorney general raided and shut down the privately operated VictoryLand casino in Macon County.

Strange contended the tribe’s casinos in Wetumpka, Montgomery and Atmore were a public nuisance operating illegal gambling machines. The tribe argued that it is under federal regulation rather than state regulation, and it got the suit moved to federal court in Montgomery.

In federal court, the attorney general is arguing that the tribe is operating games that exceed any authority it may have under federal or state law. The tribe contends that bingo is legal in some Alabama counties, and the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory act allows it to operate any gambling that is legal in the state. It maintains that its games are simply electronic versions of bingo and are allowed under federal law. It is asking U.S. District Judge Keith Watkins to dismiss the suit on grounds that Strange lacks standing to sue.

“To nobody’s surprise, Attorney General Strange raises claims that are without merit and have been rejected numerous times in various forums,” Robert McGhee, government relations adviser for the tribe, said in a statement.

Strange’s deputy solicitor general, Andrew Brasher, said the attorney general is pleased the tribe got the suit moved to federal court.

“This procedural move required the tribal defendants to acknowledge that federal law gives the state a claim against them and to waive several defenses that they could have raised,” he said.

In papers filed Thursday, the attorney general argues that the games are slot machines, which are illegal in Alabama and, unlike a game of bingo, they can be played by touching a button once.

McGhee is confident the case will end with the federal court ruling the state has no jurisdiction under federal law. “The real question is when is the attorney general going to cease ignoring federal law and attempting to undermine the inherent right of the Poarch Band to govern itself,” he said.

With the attorney general’s crackdown on VictoryLand and other privately operated casinos, the Poarch Creek’s three casinos are now the largest gambling operations in the state. The attorney general and other law enforcement agencies have raided privately operated gambling halls, but Strange has taken the courtroom approach with Alabama’s only federally recognized Indian tribe because of the status it has under federal law.