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Ute Tribe accepts resignation of financial adviser

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ROOSEVELT — The Ute Tribe Business Committee has voted to accept the resignation of tribal financial adviser John Jurrius.

A six-year employee of the tribe, Jurrius had proffered his resignation more than once since three new tribal leaders were sworn into office in May, said Business Committee Chairman Curtis Cesspooch.

During a presentation made at this month's quarterly membership meeting, Jurrius detailed the difficulty he has experienced in working with the newly elected Business Committee due to a lack of trust. He reiterated his offer to resign.

"The Business Committee decided not to wait until later to address his offer of resigning," said Cesspooch. "The Business Committee accepted his vocal offer to resign and passed a resolution accepting his resignation."

Cesspooch said the resignation means that neither Jurrius nor his Jurrius Ogle Group are working for the Ute Indian Tribe. However, just how the resignation will affect Jurrius' leadership as CEO of Ute Energy and Ute Energy Holdings is still in question, said Cesspooch.

Jurrius was paid $62,500 a year as financial adviser. In addition, he received 10 percent for every deal he negotiated on behalf of the tribe. It has been reported that Jurrius also receives $62,500 in his role as CEO for the tribe's two energy companies.

Jurrius' supporters are calling for removal of all six members of the Business Committee because of their dispute with the financial adviser. Opponents of the governing board claim they are failing in their duties to support the tribe's financial plan, which was crafted by Jurrius.

Cesspooch and other Business Committee members say they have always supported the financial plan but admit having difficulty working with Jurrius, citing a lack of trust and a lack of information, coupled with his involvement in tribal politics.

The rift among tribal members is drawn along lines of those who support Jurrius and those who don't. These feelings caused emotions to run so high during last Thursday's membership meeting that a shouting match erupted and minor physical confrontations occurred in the lobby of the tribal headquarters in Fort Duchesne, according to reports from those in attendance. Tribal security guards and Bureau of Indian Affairs police officers were called. No arrests or injuries were reported.

During the meeting Jurrius detailed his successful efforts to put the tribe on solid financial footing over the past six years, along with the reasons for a recent $200-a-month decline in their individual dividends.

The new members of the Business Committee campaigned on platforms that they would audit Jurrius' dealings with the tribe's extensive oil and gas holdings. One of the first action items after being sworn into office in May by the newly organized Business Committee was to call for an audit of tribal finances dating back to 2000.

The audit has drawn sharp criticism from Jurrius' supporters.

E-mail: lezleewhiting@hotmail.com