A man who says he is the leader of a Nevada Indian tribe has been cleared of a criminal charge of attempted grand theft.
The San Joaquin County District Attorney's Office dropped the charge against William Revill Bills, 47, on Monday from a desire to defer to federal authorities, said Patrick O'Hern, the county's chief deputy district attorney.
There is a lot of federal litigation about who the heads of different tribes are, so O'Hern said he decided to let federal authorities determine whether Bills is tribal chief of the Winnemucca Indian Colony in Nevada, as Bills claims.
Bills, who once told the News-Sentinel that his last name is Bill, had hoped to build a 20,000-square-foot Indian casino at Flag City.
He was arrested in September after walking into Wells Fargo Bank on Lodi Avenue carrying false pieces of identification, including one that could potentially allow him onto Travis Air Force Base, Lodi police Detective Dale Eubanks said at the time.
Superior Court Judge David Warner dismissed fraud and identity theft charges in February, but held Bills on the attempted grand theft charge.
Wells Fargo Business Banker Pamela Borja testified in February that Bills tried to close one of two accounts held by the Winnemucca Indian Colony. One of the accounts had about $78,000 and the other had between $130,000 and $142,000 Borja testified.
O'Hern said he talked to some agents in charge with the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs, and after reading a report from that agency, decided to terminate county prosecution and let the federal government address Bills' issues.
Deputy Public Defender Peter Fox, who represented Bills, said he knew a month ago that the charge against Bills would be dropped. O'Hern agreed with Fox's assessment, but said he planned to wait for Monday's pre-trial conference date. The trial was scheduled to begin May 15.
First published: Tuesday, April 18, 2006