Tribal speaker accused of theft

Johnny Woodard Staff reporter

August 24, 2013

Members of the Lumbee Tribal Council have been barred from the Tribal Complex after the council’s speaker allegedly took financial documents from facility this week.

The documents, according to a statement from tribal administrators, were being processed to be handed over to the Tribal Council under a court agreement reached recently between the tribe’s administration and council when they were allegedly taken. The speaker, Pearlean Revels, refused to comment to a reporter this morning.

Revels has since handed the documents over to a tribal judge, according to Maxton Councilwoman Danita Locklear.

The tribal speaker’s motivation in taking the documents and turning them over to the judge is unclear, Locklear said.

“I don’t know her frame of mind at the time, or what she was actually thinking,” said the nine-year council veteran.

According to Locklear, the entire tribal council, including the judge, have been declared personae non gratae at the Tribal Complex by certain staff members there.

“They have denied all council members access to the building,” Locklear reported. “Our magnetic keys have been deactivated, and it’s not appropriate.

“They cannot deny government access to that building.”

A police officer from the Pembroke Police Department was called to take a report and two employees filed an official complaint, according to tribal spokesman Mark Locklear. The Robesonian this morning spoke briefly with Pembroke Police Chief Grant Florita, but he said he didn’t want to comment on details until he had a chance to view the report.

Tribal Chairman Paul Brooks said in a statement that several tribal employees were present when Revels took the General Ledger from the building. He said she visited the Finance Office at 3:30 p.m. and was accompanied by Terry Campbell, a member of the tribe’s 21-member Tribal Council.

Revels and Campbell left the Finance Office and returned a short time later to retrieve car keys Revels had left in the office, Brooks said. According to the statement, Revels was captured on security cameras grabbing more than 2,000 pages of financial records and leaving the building with Campbell at 4:15 p.m. The statement did not accused Campbell of any wrongdoing.

“I’m not saying anything,” Revels told a reporter this morning.

Revels, who is up for re-election to her District 3 council seat in November, has been a leader among council members who aggressively pursued the financial records from the administration that they contend are necessary for them to perform their constitutional responsibility of financial oversight. The council and Brooks recently signed an agreement requiring Brooks to hand over to the council certain financial records, including the General Ledger, by Aug. 30.

This is the second time in less than a year that Revels has been accused of an illegal act. Late last year, at the height of a heated election for tribal chairman, Revels was charged with assault with a deadly weapon, her car, by a person who said she almost ran him off the road while he was distributing political material.

Revels contended that the earlier incident was politically motivated. Both sides in the dispute eventually agreed to drop charges.