by Virginia McCullough 3/28/10

Prior to 1978 the Cabazon Reservation in Indio, California received very little publicity; then the Cabazons made a life altering decision when they hired John Philip Nichols and his family company, Pro Plan. Author William H. Thompson described the arrival of the Nichols' family in the paragraph below:

A very troubling case developed on the California lands of the Cabazon Band in 1981. The tribe consisted of 22 individuals -- 16 adults and 6 children, and they lived on a 1700-acre reservation in Southern California that President Grant had set up for the tribe in 1876. Since the land was quite unfit for habitation at the time, most of the tribal members lived in local cities off the reservation. Two hundred of the acres, however, turned out to be located adjacent to Interstate Highway 10. In 1978, the tribe hired John Paul [Philip] Nichols to be its financial adviser. Nichols had an unusual past, having spent seventeen years in South America as a consultant before moving to Sarasota, Florida, where he was a social worker specializing in writing federal grant proposals. As the tribal financial adviser, Nichols's eyes turned immediately to the 200 interstate acres and "tax-free" commercial possibilities. He examined outlets for the sale of cigarettes, for liquor, and also for a bingo hall and card games casino. Nichols invited several of his friends to develop a gambling hall.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Native American Issues - Second Edition, Pg. 30
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Author William H. Thompson, published 2005
A 1991 article in the San Francisco Chronicle by John Littman describes the continuing activities of John Philip Nichols:

In the summer of 1980, Nichols embarked on the most extraordinary business of all -- a spate of international security and military ventures, starting with a plan to provide security for a royal Saudi palace in a joint venture with Wackenhut International, a Florida-based security firm run by former CIA, FBI, National Security Agency and military officials.

During the next three years, Nichols proposed manufacturing 120mm combustible cartridge cases, 9mm machine pistols, laser-sighted assault weapons, sniper rifles and portable rocket systems on the reservation and in Latin America. At one point, he even sought a contract to make biological weapons.

All of these developments were noteworthy, but the media coverage was limited until one devastating act, allegedly ordered by John Philip Nichols, forced the Cabazon tribe onto the front pages of newspapers throughout the United States. The triple execution of former Cabazon Vice-chairman Fred Alvarez and his two friends Ralph Boger and Patricia Castro on June 29, 1981 caught the immediate attention of the world wide media. (Seeking the Head of the Octopus: The Years Leading up to the Alvarez Executions.) Suddenly all of the business ventures initiated by Pro Plan, John Philip Nichols and his family were subject to examination under the intense scrutiny of a triple homicide investigation that remained open in both Riverside County and the State of California for the next 28 years. Then on October 1, 2009 Deputy Attorney General Michael Murphy filed a felony warrant in Riverside Superior Court naming James "Jimmy" George Hughes as the alleged murderer of three people. Three other alleged co-conspirators were named including the now deceased John Philip Nichols. (Attorney General Jerry Brown's Felony Complaint Against Jimmy Hughes).

In the winter of 2007 the Alvarez Executions were placed in the hands of Riverside Sheriff Cold Case Detective John M. Powers. On July 10, 2008 Detective John Powers told this reporter that, "I simply cannot understand why this case was never solved and it was put back on the shelf so many times. Numerous detectives from the sheriff's department, the DA's Office, the FBI, the Justice Department, and a grand jury spent years investigating it, but no one seems to know why it wasn't completed. I have an FBI report closing the case in 1986 with no further leads to follow up. The only conclusion that I've come up with is that everyone gets caught up in the Octopus and gets overwhelmed by the vastness of where this case reaches. I myself have decided to focus simply on the murder of 3 people in the desert, who ordered it to be done, who organized it, and who pulled the trigger.

It was now obvious that the arrest and attempted conviction of defendant Jimmy Hughes would address only the act of murder itself and little to no attention would be paid to the motivation or mental state that resulted in the slaughter of three people. However, the felony complaint itself spells out the attorney's general's reason the co-conspirators allegedly planned the triple execution. The final words in each paragraph in Overt Acts 1, 2, and 3 states "to prevent Fred Alvarez from exposing illegal activities of John Philip Nichols, occurring at the Cabazon Indian Reservation".

Many of those illegal activities were invented by, sanctioned by and protected by the CIA, DEA and NSA. The FBI operating in concert with and usually under the direction of one or all of these three agencies served a very specific purpose that directly affected the outcome of the Alvarez murder investigation. As Mr. Powers so succinctly said, "I have an FBI report closing the [Alvarez Executions] case in 1986 with no further leads to follow up."

There were many shady businesses that began on the Cabazon land, but the primary goal of Pro Plan, Nichols and those who controlled and protected them was to achieve legalized gaming on all Indian Reservations within the United States. In order to achieve that goal it was necessary for the challenges to Indian gambling to wind their way through the local, state and federal courts until the Supreme Court took up the issue of gaming on Sovereign Nations and made a ruling.

Legalized and unaudited gambling on sovereign Indian land would provide tremendous profits for the gaming management teams such as Pro Plan and it would also provide unlimited funding to support America's undeclared wars in South America. Intelligence funding for these purposes had been largely curtailed following the Church Hearings in 1975-76.

Many states fought against legalized Indian gaming because of countless complaints of organized criminal activity involved with the management groups and gaming suppliers operating on various Indian Reservations. Organized crime on Indian reservations and political assassinations to hide such blatant illegal activities and the subsequent publicity would endanger the ultimate goal of a favorable Supreme Court ruling. Therefore the numerous accusations of mob activity controlling Indian gaming were ignored and all such criticism was directed to the FBI and ultimately to the courts themselves.

During the first three years of the 1980s organized crime was exposed on several Indian casinos run by white management teams. William H. Thompson describes a few instances below:

The Seminole Tribe in Florida garnered publicity in the Miami Herald on May 29, 1983 when a federal grand jury, unable to get the accounting records of the Seminole Casino, filed to obtain indictments against the Pan American Associates for skimming.

Soon Pan American had arranged for a Boston firm, New England Entertainment, to finance a bingo facility for a tiny Mdewakanton Sioux Reservation in Shakopee, Minnesota on the outskirts of Minneapolis.

William H. Thompson describes the expanding operation below:

        The two companies then merged and took the new name Little Six, Inc., for the Minnesota project. They agreed to operate the bingo games for fifteen years in exchange for a 45 percent share of all net
        profits from bingo after a $1 million loan for the building was repaid. Little Six received $850,000 beyond the repayment of the loans and other expenses in the first year of operations.

[Mdewakanton Sioux Reservation Tribal Chair] Crooks was happy with the operation. He claimed that the bingo game profits allowed the 150 inhabitants of the 250-acre reservation to have paved roads for the first time. He also enjoyed the $80,000 he received from Little Six for the use of his land. The bingo hall was constructed on a reservation parcel that was assigned to Crooks. The tribal chair neglected to tell the tribal council and tribal members that he was taking this money from Little Six. He won council approval for the tribe to also pay him a monthly stipend for the use of his land. In addition, they noted that some unsavory characters were associated with Little Six. The federal district court of Minnesota voided the contract; the tribe took over management of the games United States ex. rel. Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community v. Pan American Management Company 1985).

When {Indian tribal attorney Stephen] Whilden reached out for financial help from New England Entertainment, he latched onto a group with a past. Two of New England's partners had criminal records. Under Whilden's direction, Pan American also lined up New England Entertainment to be its partner in establishing a blackjack casino in the State of Washington on the Lummi Reservation. The federal authorities acknowledged that the criminal involvement of the New England partners was a major factor in their closing down the operation in February 1983 Akron Beacon Journal June 3, 1984).

Stephen Whilden seemed to be ubiquitous, but actually he was but one of a cadre of entrepreneurs looking for opportunity in Native American Gaming. The high-stakes bingo games on the Cherokee reservation in North Carolina provide an example of how tribal revenues were diverted to non-Native managers. An audit of 1983 and 1984 revenues revealed that bingo revenues in excess of $8 million resulted in tribal shares of $800,000 after the Cherokee Management group had deduced "expenses" Charlotte Observer July 7, 1985; Raleigh News Observer July 28, 1985).

As early as 1978 rumors of organized crime controlling Indian gaming were rampant. Audio, video and printed media covered numerous tribes who were being torn apart as white management teams with shady pasts spread like a cancer over reservations nationwide. By 1980 almost 20 states were filing formal complaints with the United States Congress requesting that legislation severely limiting Indian gaming be implemented at the federal level. The fight to establish Indian sovereignty had begun.

On May 6, 2002 David A. Yeagley wrote an article that looked back on the repercussions of uncontrolled, unaudited monies approaching $5 billion dollars a year in California alone. Yeagley's piece, When Sacred Places Sell that originally ran at stated in part:

The deeper crisis has been brought out by ongoing investigations of the Executive Intelligence Review (EIR). In the January 15, 1993 issue, Phillip Valenti said it’s all about global money laundering, international drugs and weapons trafficking, prostitution, pornography, or "Dope, Inc."

Valenti says "the organized crime takeover of Indian reservations in the United States is already well advanced," and its "part of a larger scheme to force legalized casino gambling through state legislatures everywhere."

Valenti offers exotic lists of people, like John Philip Nichols (CIA), Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-HI.), Sidney Yates (D-Ill.), Michael Riconosciuto, Paul Morasca, Shabtai Kalmanowitch, Minnesota Attorney General Hubert Humphrey, and Anti-Defamation League’s Burton Joseph as players. Valenti cites the playing fields too, like specific Indian reservations, and how they were surreptitiously "invaded" by players from South Africa, Switzerland, Canada, Australia, and Britain.

Saudis have been involved in Connecticut’s Mashantucket casino (Foxwoods), as well as Malaysians. This was well publicized in the Harford Courant (1994).

All international crooks, including Americans, want to exploit the Indian "sovereignty" situation, because on reservations casino industries are free from government regulation.

At the Cabazon Reservation tribal members delegated total responsibility for the day to day operations of all businesses operated in the Cabazon name to the business committee and the Nichols family delegates. The managers or administrators promised the world to individual tribal members and they also had the absolute power to deny all benefits to any tribal member who objected to the arrangement often using a process called disenrollment to punish the most vocal critics. Those who bent to the will of the administrator and the business committee were promised the earth and the moon, a promise that was often filled with outright lies.

An excellent example of this manipulative process was documented during a HUD hearing in an exchange between California Congressman Ton Lantos and Cabazon Chief John James on October 21, 1991:

Cabazon Tribal Administrator Mark Nichols explained an estimated net income of between $6 and $7 million to Congressman Lantos:

It is a small percentage that an operation takes off the amount of wagers. Of that $6 million figure, we have to sustain a work force of approximately 260 people and a whole slew of associated costs.

A tribal tax which comes to the tribe on a monthly basis, which sustains operations on a monthly basis and that also, comes off the top.

MR. LANTOS: There is nothing wrong in being a millionaire. I wish everybody would be a millionaire. Is it accurate, Mr. James, that you stated in an interview in the Desert Sun, what I would try to do is to make sure every one of the Indians in the next 4 years is a millionaire -- did you make that statement?

MR. JAMES: At the time, it was a campaign speech. I was running for the office of chairman. At that time, the net worth of the Cabazon Indians was $250,000, so I figured on average I will increase it by $750,000.

Congressman Lantos ignored the obvious lie by the Indian Chief to his people and changed the subject asking, "Can you just tell us about this high-tech security for the Sandi Arabian palace, what that venture was?"

Certainly Congressman Lantos and all those attending the hearing that day were fully aware of the regulations of the Indian Gaming Regulators Act which the Cabazon's former attorney James G. Abourezk spelled out in a letter to his client on March 2, 1994.

It is necessary to advise you of the substance the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act which covers such a situation. Under 25 U.S.C. Section 2701(b) (2) the Chairman [of the National Indian Gaming Commission] shall approve any tribal ordinance or resolution concerning the conduct of Class II gaming on the Indian lands within the tribe's jurisdiction if such ordinance or resolution provides that -

(B) Net revenue from any tribal gaming is not to be used for purposes other than:

(i) to fund tribal government operations or programs;

(ii) to provide for the general welfare of the Indian tribe and its members;

(iii) to promote tribal economic development;

(iv) to donate to charitable organization; or

(v) to help fund operations of local government agencies.

Ignoring and then covering up the many allegations about organized criminal activities and mismanagement and outright theft of American Indians funds by the many now profiting from Indian gaming, the FBI and the court pushed headlong toward absolving all those accused of any wrongdoing. One paragraph in a letter dated October 13, 1993 from the Seminole Tribe of Florida to The honorable Bill Richardson, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Native American Affairs of the Committee on Natural Resources in Washington D.C. was typical of the united effort to ignore any and all accusations about organized crime's control of Indian gaming:

None of the allegations raised by Mr. Torricelli or [retired FBI special agent] Richard] Elroy has ever been pursued by the FBI, by any other agency of the federal government or by the Special Committee of Investigations of the Senate Select Committee on Indian Affairs that initially heard these charges more than four years ago.... We strongly urge that any individual with information concerning corruption or links to organized crime within our gaming operations make that information available to the FBI.

A close examination of the public and private records clearly documents countless instances of organized crime on Indian reservations brought about because of gaming. But the FBI, acting on behalf of and at the instance of various agencies consistently ignored and/or covered up any such allegations.

In October 1991 at the infamous HUD hearings, Cabazon Chief John James felt so comfortable with his protection by that very agency that he recounted for the committee the following:

The first is the organized crime allegation. This is the cheapest shot of all. Let me state clearly: There is no criminal involvement in our gaming activities -- organized or disorganized. The Chronicle story says that the HUD grant was made "despite a decade of allegations by state and local authorities that organized crime has infiltrated the Cabazon's gambling activities." This is a lie. The Cabazon Band litigated the legality of its gambling operations for seven years against the City of Indio, Riverside County and the State of California. During that entire time, no such allegation was ever presented in court, and, in fact, the County and State specifically stated in the litigation that they were not alleging any organized crime involvement in our gaming operations.

As a result, in 1986 the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals found that:

"There is no evidence whatsoever that organized crime exists on these (Cabazon and Morongo) Indian reservations."

A year later, in 1987, the United States Supreme Court reached the same conclusion:

California does not allege any present criminal involvement in the Cabazon and Morongo enterprises and the Ninth Circuit discerned none."

The long journey to legalized gaming on the sovereign land of United States Indian Reservations was finally achieved with the US Supreme Court Decision handed down in 1987. The ruling essentially discounts all individual state concerns about organized crime involved in Indian gaming on sovereign land located within state boundaries. Item 2 of California v. Cabazon Bank of Mission Indians, 480 U.S. 202 (1987) - Appealed from the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, No. 85-1708. The case was argued December 9, 1986 and decided on February 25, 1987. Item 2 summarizes the court's reasoning:

2. Even though not expressly authorized by Congress, state and local laws may be applied to on-reservation activities of tribes and tribal members under certain circumstances. The decision in this case turns on whether state authority is pre-empted by the operation of federal law. State jurisdiction is pre-empted if it interferes or is incompatible with federal and tribal interests reflected in federal law, unless the state interests at stake are sufficient to justify the assertion of state authority. The federal interests in Indian self-government, including the goal of encouraging tribal self-sufficiency and economic development, are important, and federal agencies, acting under federal laws, have sought to implement them by promoting and overseeing tribal bingo and gambling enterprises. Such policies and actions are of particular relevance in this case since the tribal games provide the sole source of revenues for the operation of the tribal governments and are the major sources of employment for tribal members. To the extent that the State seeks to prevent all bingo games on tribal lands while permitting regulated off-reservation games, the asserted state interest in preventing the infiltration of the tribal games by organized crime is irrelevant, and the state and county laws are pre-empted. Even to the extent that the State and county seek to regulate short of prohibition, the laws are pre-empted since the asserted state interest is not sufficient to escape the pre-emptive force of the federal and tribal interests apparent in this case. Pp. 214-222.

The case that brought about this historic supreme court ruling began as Cabazon Band of Mission Indians vs. County of Riverside and for 28 years law enforcement officers and prosecutors in Riverside County and the State of California have been led down the rabbit hole and gotten lost in the in the tentacles of the Octopus. Did they know as they allegedly pursued the executioners of three people that they had simply been sacrificed to the head of the Octopus so that the federal government could usurp local and state rights in order to turn over the proceeds from sovereign nation gaming to organized crime?

Fred Alvarez, Ralph Boger and Patricia Castro were simply collateral damage in this immoral war for the economic control of billions of dollars generated by Indian gaming. The FBI closed their investigation in 1986 into this brutal triple murder for the very same reason the State Attorney General Jerry Brown alleges Jimmy Hughes pulled the trigger -- "to prevent Fred Alvarez from exposing illegal activities of John Philip Nichols, occurring at the Cabazon Indian Reservation".

Virginia McCullough © 3/28/10