32°F
Sponsored by

Gov. Cuomo & State Sued Over Oneida Nation Agreement; Eyewitness News Investigates

Governor Cuomo and the state legislature are being sued over the Oneida Nation Agreement signed in May. State Supreme Court Justice Roger McDonough, has signed an order directing Governor Cuomo or his counsel to appear in court on September 13th for a show-cause hearing. Some are claiming the Oneida Nation Agreement is illegal.
Governor Cuomo and the state legislature are being sued over the Oneida Nation Agreement signed in May. State Supreme Court Justice Roger McDonough, has signed an order directing Governor Cuomo or his counsel to appear in court on September 13th for a show-cause hearing. Some are claiming the Oneida Nation Agreement is illegal.

Melvin Phillips has lived in Vernon his whole life. He says he's one of the only full-blooded Oneida Indians left in the area and he says if this agreement goes through, the state will take everything he has.

"I never heard of a nation run by 1 man. They call it Oneida Nation and 1 man controls everything and runs the whole show," says Melvin Phillips, plaintiff in the lawsuit and spokesman for Orchard Party/ Marble Hill Oneidas.

Phillips is speaking on behalf of the Orchard Party Oneidas, no affiliation with the Oneida Indian Nation. He says the settlement agreement signed by the Governor gives his land to the nation, and he says that's a direct violation of a state treaty signed in 1842.

"This agreement they have signed with Halbritter is not legal. they can't do this," says Phillips.

Phillips says the Orchard Party/ Marble Hill Oneidas own 100 acres of land in Vernon, also known as Lots 2 and 3 in Treaties signed with New York in May and June 1842. And, he says the Governor, the County Executive, and the Oneida Nation do not have the authority to sign that away

"The state should know this. We live here under treaties, and New York State is violating their own treaty they have with us," says Phillips.

Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney is Mr. Phillips attorney. She says the agreement gives the nation a monopoly on gambling in Central New York, in exchange for their support in the Governor's proposed expansion of casinos. She says that's buying votes and in regards to Mr. Phillips land, she says the state is using a bully tactic

"The only true Oneidas who have never left the land, the genuine Oneidas, are now ironically going to be ousted by the so- called fake Oneidas, or casino Oneidas as I've called them by our own state government," says Assemblywoman Tenney.

And Melvin Phillips is just one of many plaintiffs in the case. The towns of Vernon and Verona are also suing the state, claiming the agreement was entered without consultation from either township. Eyewitness News reached out to Governor Cuomo.

Rich Azzopardi, a spokesman for Governor Cuomo, says "The agreement is sound, has been approved by democratic votes in the relevant county legislatures, and settles longstanding issues between the state and local governments and the Oneidas. This suit is unfounded and the allegations in it have no basis in reality."

The Oneida Nation is declining to comment today.

And again, a state Supreme Court judge has ordered a show-cause hearing and that will be September 13th in Albany.
Page: [[$index + 1]]
comments powered by Disqus