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Fired CEO regains top casino job

Tue., Aug. 9, 2011

Tribe formerly sued Matheson, now wants to ‘move forward’

The Coeur d’Alene Tribal Council has filled the top position at its casino in Worley, Idaho, with a tribal member who was fired from the same job and sued by the tribe five years ago for alleged breach of fiduciary duties.

On Monday, David Matheson was named CEO of the Coeur d’Alene Casino Resort Hotel, a position he held from 1994 until his forced ouster in 2006.

“The Tribal Council felt that Dave Matheson was the most qualified candidate interviewed and that the time was right to offer Dave a second chance,” read a statement issued by the council on Monday.

Neither Matheson nor tribal Chairman Chief Allan was available for comment on the apparent reconciliation.

In 2007, the tribe dropped its lawsuit against Matheson in which he was accused of paying an unauthorized severance of $684,000 to the casino’s former chief operating officer, Jerry Krieg.

According to the lawsuit, the payment “was so utterly inappropriate that it constituted a waste of corporate assets,” The Spokesman-Review reported.

At the time, an independent audit indicated that casino employees failed to provide documentation for nearly $340,000 charged to the casino’s credit card.

The lawsuit had sought $751,000 plus punitive damages from Matheson. On Monday, tribal spokesman Helo Hancock declined to comment on whether the tribe recovered any of that money.

In addition, the Tribal Council and Matheson appeared to split over a letter he distributed shortly before his termination saying the casino was profitable enough to pay $1,000 a month to each enrolled tribal member.

“We are willing to put the issues of the past to rest and move forward with the continued success of our tribal gaming enterprise,” according to the council statement. “The issues that surrounded Dave’s prior departure were ultimately resolved outside of litigation. Today is a new day.”

Matheson will replace David LaSarte-Meeks, who oversaw a multimillion-dollar expansion of the casino, which employs about 1,200 people.

“It was the Tribal Council’s position that (LaSarte-Meeks) had achieved the goals that were set and it was time to move in a different direction,” according to a statement by tribal chairman Chief Allan.

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