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Judge Acquits Fired Tribal Workers

December 18, 2002

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) _ A judge Tuesday acquitted three fired Seminole tribal workers in their federal embezzlement trial for lack of evidence.

The decision came a day after ousted Seminole Indian Chief James Billie took full responsibility for quietly ordering the founding of an Internet gambling operation funded by $2.7 million in tribal money that prosecutors claimed was stolen. Billie was investigated but not interviewed or charged.

U.S. District Judge William Dimitrouleas issued the directed verdicts of acquittal after both sides rested on the sixth day of trial, agreeing with the defense that the prosecution evidence’s was too weak to support a conviction.

Jacqueline Becerra, spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney’s office, said: ``We stand by our case, and today’s result in no way will deter us from prosecuting these cases in the future.″

The defendants were the tribe’s fired chief administrator Tim Cox, computer consultant Michael Crumpton, and Crumpton’s father-in-law Danny Wisher.

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