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Miccosukee Indians Blame Attorney for $25.5 Million Tax Woes

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Miccosukee Indians Blame Attorney for $25.5 Million Tax Woes

The Miccosukee Indians are blaming their former attorney, Dexter Lehtinen, for the tribe owing $25.8 million in back taxes. 

Over 100 Miccosukee Indians owe the federal government in back taxes, penalties and interest on income the tribe dispersed from gambling profits at its West Miami-Dade casino operation, according to the Miami Herald. 

The tribe claims that Lehtinen provided them with “faulty advice” on personal income-tax disputes, causing the tribe and its members to incur “outrageous interest and penalties.”

From the Herald

In court papers, the Miccosukees said that for many years Lehtinen advised tribe members that they owed no individual income taxes on the gambling distributions, but he changed his position before he was fired in 2010 after a change of tribal leadership. The tribe accused Lehtinen of providing misleading advice that reveals a “clear and concise picture of the fraud he committed upon tribal members in order to collect outrageous fees.”

The tribe says it paid his law firm $50 million for counsel on environmental, income-tax and other legal issues starting in 1992. Now it wants him to pay damages as the tribe takes a publicly aggressive stand against Lehtinen, a former U.S. attorney in Miami and the husband of U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Miami.

Lehtinen’s lawyer, Joseph Klock, claims the allegations are false and that the Miccosukees are simply looking for a scapegoat. 

“Those folks left him high and dry,” Klock said. “Their case is absolutely ridiculous.”

- Aaron Goldstein, Gambling911.com

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