Friday, 03 April 2020

Robinson Rancheria evicts five disenrollees and their families

NICE, Calif. – On Tuesday several families that had been subject to tribal disenrollment several years ago were evicted from their homes on Robinson Rancheria.

Tribal member E.J. Crandell said about five homes were evicted beginning Tuesday morning.

The tenants evicted on Tuesday were tribal members disenrolled in late 2008, including Karen Ramos, Inez Sands, Robert Quitiquit and Reuban Want, Crandell said.

The home of Luwana Quitiquit, who had died in December, also was targeted for the eviction, according to Crandell.

Sgt. Steve Brooks of the Lake County Sheriff's Office said the evictions were conducted by the Robinson Rancheria Police Department and the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

He said personnel from the Lake County Sheriff’s Office were present during the evictions and acting in a support role only. Brooks said they were only on scene in case a crime was committed against the officials who were conducting the evictions.

Northshore Fire was staged in case of emergency, according to Chief Jay Beristianos.

District Attorney's Office staff also were reported to be on scene, Crandell said.

The disenrollments arose in the wake of a disputed June 2008 election during which Crandell challenged Tribal Chair Tracey Avila.

Crandell won the election, which he alleged later was overturned by an election committee composed of Avila's family members.

The tribal council, led by Avila, later would disenroll approximately 67 individuals, one of them posthumously.

An effort to evict the families began after the Bureau of Indian Affairs upheld the disenrollments. The tribal council formed a tribal court, which ruled against the five tenants in January 2011, according to court documents.

In documents associated with a federal court action the tribe brought against the tenants in August 2011, the tribe alleged that it was evicting the group for failure to pay a monthly administration fee as rent in violation of tenant agreements.

However, the tenants argued in their response that they resided in homes they contracted to purchase through a federally funded, low-income housing program, and that they were actually targeted because they had been disenrolled.

That federal case was dismissed, on the agreement of both parties, this past March.

Crandell said tenants were presented with eviction documents from the tribal court. He said the documents had not been presented to the group's current attorney.

The move comes less than a week before tribal leaders are set to meet as part of the Lake County Indian Gaming Local Community Benefit Committee to discuss giving grants from the Indian Gaming Special Distribution Fund – to which Robinson Rancheria and Big Valley Rancheria contribute – to local agencies. Both the sheriff's office and the District Attorney's Office have applied for those funds.

That meeting is set to take place at 9 a.m. Monday, May 14, in conference room B in the Lake County Courthouse, 255 N. Forbes St., Lakeport.

Last year, a dispute between Sheriff Frank Rivero and Robinson Rancheria resulted in his department getting none of the funds, as Lake County News has reported.

Avila, meanwhile, is scheduled to appear in court later this month for the scheduling of a preliminary hearing in a felony grand theft case against her.

She is alleged to have stolen more than $60,000 from the Elem Indian Colony of Pomo Indians in Clearlake Oaks while she worked for that tribe as a fiscal officer from February 2006 to September 2008.

Email Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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