As the sun sets on the controversy surrounding this year's Ute tribal elections, at least one member of the Business Committee still has personal battles to fight.
On Aug. 10, two criminal complaints were filed in the Ute Tribal Court against former chairman and current Business Committee member Stewart Pike. One complaint alleges theft of property and the other official misconduct, according to court records.Both charges stem from an incident on Aug. 8 where Pike allegedly wrote the word "void" on paychecks intended for newly elected Business Committee members and then crossed out his signature on the checks.
The complaints allege that Pike "acting under the color of law . . . with the intent of harming Roseline Taveapont, Larry Blackhair and Raymond Murray, by depriving them of their lawful paychecks knowingly committed an unauthorized act by removing the paychecks from the Business Committee office and defacing them with the word `VOID,' rendering them non-negotiable."
Pike admits he did it but said it was to avoid the "misuse of tribal money," not to cause the new members trouble.
Because a federal court order issued in July had recognized the old Business Committee until a new committee was "lawfully elected," Pike said paying the new Business Committee members was a misuse of tribal money.
"That's why I did it," he said. "They were misusing (tribal) funds. They were using my name to pay the so-called council. It's partly my responsibility to make sure the funds are used appropriately."
He said he was approached by tribal members, including the treasurer, who were concerned about paying the new Business Committee members. He said those concerned people also thought paying the committee before the issue was settled was misusing tribal money.
The date on the checks is Aug.8, almost two weeks after the second election where Roseline Taveapont, Raymond Murray and Larry Blackhair emerged victorious for the second time.
It was also after Tribal Judge George Tah-Bone ordered the old Business Committee to certify the election results, which would declare the new members the winners.