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Flag City casino planner suspected of fraud

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Posted: Wednesday, September 28, 2005 10:00 pm

A man who wants to build a casino in Flag City was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of fraud after allegedly trying to access Indian tribe bank accounts.

William Bills, 46, remains in the Lodi city jail and is expected to be arraigned in court today on charges including fraud and possessing false government documents.

William Bills

At the time of his arrest, Bills was allegedly carrying several false pieces of identification, including one that could potentially allow him onto Travis Air Force Base, Lodi Police Detective Dale Eubanks said.

Bills, who had previously told the News-Sentinel that his last name is Bill, in June sent letters to the City Council and the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors. He outlined his plans for a 20,000-square-foot Indian casino near Highway 12 and Interstate 5, saying he was adopted into the Winnemucca Indian Colony in Nevada and had become tribal chief.

His status with the tribe, which is based in the small town of Winnemucca, northeast of Reno, is in question and is the subject of a long-running federal lawsuit in Nevada.

Bills, who has a post office box in Woodbridge and an address in Stockton, came to police attention Saturday, Eubanks said.

Bills had gone to Wells Fargo Bank, 120 W. Lodi Ave., and was attempting to access a tribal account with more than $30,000 in it, Eubanks said. The account was linked to another containing roughly $150,000, he said.

Suspicious bank employees contacted the tribe and were told that Bills did not have access to the accounts. So they quietly called police, and told Bills that the accounts would have to be straightened out later.

Eubanks got the case and soon contacted the Indian tribe and the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

They told Eubanks that Bills has never had access to the accounts, and that he is not the chairman of the tribe. How Bills even got the account number is not known, though Eubanks suspects that Bills saw the number on a paycheck made out to his sister, who works with the tribe.

A criminal check revealed that Bills was wanted on a fraud warrant in Washoe County in Nevada, Eubanks said.

So when Bills returned to the bank around 2 p.m. Tuesday, detectives were waiting. Eubanks pretended to be filling out a job application, while another appeared to be applying for a loan. When Bills entered the bank, detectives cornered him.

In addition to the Air Force base identification, Eubanks said police found a fake photo ID portraying Bills as an official with the U.S. Department of the Interior, complete with a seal. Detectives also found a business card listing Bills as an agent with the Environmental Protection Agency, Eubanks said.

Bills was arrested without incident and booked into jail, where he is being held without bail because of the Nevada warrant.

As for the casino, county officials have received no permit applications or had any further correspondence from Bills, said Kerry Sullivan, director of the San Joaquin County Community Development Department.

Contact reporter Layla Bohm at layla@lodinews.com.

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