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James E. Billie, chairman of the Seminole Tribe of Florida during a period of soaring casino revenues, was removed from office Wednesday morning.

The tribal council voted 4-0 on the removal, acting on a recall petition filed by tribal members that cited various issues with policies and procedures in the chairman’s office. The move takes effect immediately.

More than 100 members, including Billie, attended the open meeting at the Seminole Tribe of Florida headquarters. Those voting were: Mitchell Cypress, Vice Chairman; Christopher Osceola, who represents the Hollywood Seminole Reservation; Cicero Osceola, who represents the Big Cypress Seminole Reservation, and Andrew Bowers Jr., who represents the Brighton Seminole Reservation.

Billie, 72, was chairman when the Seminoles decided to open a bingo hall that grew crowds as payouts approached tens of thousands of dollars. That move, at what is now known as Seminole Classic Casino, launched high-stakes bingo at Indian casinos across the nation after the U.S. Supreme Court determined that tribes’ sovereignity made them exempt from state civil laws. Bingo is legal in Florida, but civil laws require stakes to be low.

The tribe now garners about $2 billion in revenues at seven properties, including one in Tampa, which Billie helped start after Indian remains were discovered there, making the property sacred land.

He was elected in 1979, then impeached in 2001 because of financial issues. He was re-elected in 2011, then suffered a stroke in 2012 and has walked with a cane since. He also won re-election in 2015.

The move is accordance with the process spelled out in the Constitution of the Seminole Tribe of Florida adopted in 1957. The tribe will conduct a special election to elect a new chairman within 30 days.

Neither Billie nor anyone else related to the tribe was immediately available for comment.

http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/miami-dade/article104710976.html

 


Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/miami-dade/article104710976.html#storylink=cpy

 


Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/miami-dade/article104710976.html#storylink=cpy

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