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Tribe Gaming Director Kills Himself

January 22, 1998

MESA, Ariz. (AP) _ The gambling director for an Indian tribe apparently killed himself after telling relatives he was depressed over the furor that erupted when the tribe refused to pay a casino customer a $330,000 slot machine jackpot.

Robert Mulryne Jr., 41, died of a gunshot wound to the head Friday in his Chandler apartment. Police said it was apparently a suicide.

Mulryne was at the center of the battle between Harrah’s Phoenix Ak-Chin Casino and Herminia Rodriquez.

In October, Mrs. Rodriquez was told by the tribe that her jackpot was invalid because the slot machine she was playing was defective. But last week, after she went to the media with her story, Harrah’s, which manages the casino for the tribe, relented and paid up out of its own money.

Mulryne, who was put in the position of spokesman for the tribe during the controversy, had told relatives he was troubled by the bad publicity, according to The Tribune, a newspaper serving suburban Phoenix.

``I think it’s fair to say, based on what family members have told us, that he was upset by what happened,″ said Sgt. Ken Phillips, a Chandler police spokesman.

Although the controversy created headaches for the tribe, Mulryne faced no threat of being fired or demoted, said Abby Fink, a spokeswoman for the Ak-Chin Indian tribe.

Mulryne, a gambling regulator in New Jersey for about 15 years, started working for the tribe about 18 months ago.

He didn’t leave a note behind but told relatives and mental health counselors that ``he was getting bad press and being dragged through the mud,″ said Chandler police Sgt. Ken Phillips.

The agency that runs the area’s suicide hotline, ComCare, told police on Friday that Mulryne had contacted counselors the day before and Mulryne’s father was flying out to see him because the family was worried.

Mulryne threatened suicide in the calls to ComCare, Phillips said. Police and counselors went to his home and discovered the body.

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