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Defendant seeks to have judge removed from Hogansburg casino trial set for Tuesday

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AKWESASNE - With a trial over an alleged unsanctioned casino on the St. Regis Mohawk Reservation scheduled to begin Tuesday in U.S. District Court, Albany, one of the defendants has filed a motion to have the judge hearing the case removed.

Thomas Angus Square, Hogansburg, filed a litany of reasons Friday as to why he believes Judge Thomas J. McAvoy cannot preside impartially over the trial, which already has been postponed three times. The trial of Mr. Square, as well as James Gray, William Roger Jock and Anthony L. Laughing Sr., all of Hogansburg, and Joseph Hight of Atlanta initially was set for Feb. 11 before being pushed back.

The government alleges the men conducted a non-tribal gambling business and unlawfully possessed gambling devices in Indian country in connection with the operation of Three Feathers Casino, which opened in July 2011.

The facility was closed in September 2012; a raid was conducted at the site in December, resulting in numerous additional charges against the five defendants.

Mr. Square contends, essentially, that Judge McAvoy lacks jurisdiction over him, further arguing, among other things, that the judge is a member of a “good-ole-boys’ club” and therefore cannot remain impartial.

In addition to the recusal of Judge McAvoy, Mr. Square is demanding his own immediate release from custody and dismissal of the indictment against him.

The judge had not ruled on the motion as of late Friday. Attorneys for Mr. Jock and Mr. Hight also have requests pending before Judge McAvoy to have the trial postponed for 30 days, claiming prosecutors only recently have provided them with extensive discovery materials and more time is needed to review them and prepare a defense.

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