MASHANTUCKET, Conn. (AP) — A former leader of the tribe behind the Foxwoods Resort Casino who went to prison for stealing from his Mashantucket Pequots has been hired for a new job with the tribal government.
Michael Thomas, who was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison for stealing $100,000 from the tribe, was hired this month as an executive assistant to the tribe's chief of staff, according to tribal spokeswoman Lori Potter. He completed his sentence in May.
Potter said the position involves assisting with daily operations of Chief of Staff Antonio Beltran's office and its oversight of some tribal government departments.
Potter said Thomas, the former tribal chairman, is a gifted, intelligent leader who has paid his dues to society.
"As for past failures, poor judgments, immaturity and hard lessons learned, these experiences don't haunt us, but become part of our cherished arsenal of 'war stories,'" Potter said. "They are parables of wisdom that add greater depth and meaning to the legacy of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, which we will hand down to our future generations."
Thomas declined a request for an interview.
Thomas led the tribe for seven years until he was ousted in 2009 over his handling of a financial downturn that saw its casino default on $2.3 billion in debt.
In 2013 he was found guilty of using a tribe-issued credit card to embezzle about $100,000 to pay for limousine service trips for his mother's medical appointments and his own personal expenses between 2007 and 2009.
Thomas was indicted along with his brother, Steven Thomas, who was spared prison time after he admitted misapplying $177,603 for his personal benefit by falsifying time cards in 2007 when he was assistant director of the tribe's natural resources department. Steven Thomas has since returned to work as a human resources manager at Foxwoods.