|By Dan Herbeck, The Buffalo News,
N.Y.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
April 26, 2009 --A shake-up of Seneca Nation casino operations continues with the departure of Brian Hansberry as president and chief executive officer of the Seneca Gaming Corp.
The gambling corporation said Saturday that Hansberry, a close associate of Seneca Nation President Barry E. Snyder Sr., is leaving his position in charge of the tribe's casinos.
Hansberry's departure comes less than six weeks after Snyder was ousted from his post as chairman of the gambling corporation's board of directors. That action followed an audit that raised questions about the corporation's expenditures and dealings with contractors.
Hansberry and Snyder could not be reached to comment on Saturday, and a corporation spokeswoman declined to say whether Hansberry left voluntarily or was fired.
Hansberry, an experienced gambling executive, had been with Seneca Gaming since October 2002.
"We are grateful to Brian for his dedication to SGC over the past seven years. He has been an integral part of the corporation's growth and success," said Cochise Redeye, who succeeded Snyder last month as chairman of the Seneca Gaming.
"Our action today builds upon the Seneca Nation Council's recent reform-oriented actions . . . and is largely driven by the recognition that meeting our future goals in these challenging and uncertain economic times requires a new direction."
Catherine A. Walker, the corporation's chief operating officer, has been authorized to act as president and CEO on an interim basis.
Walker joined the corporation in March 2008 after working for the Trump organization since 2000. She held the position of general manager at the Trump Indiana Hotel Casino, the Trump Taj Mahal Casino and, most recently, the Trump Marina Hotel Casino.
She has also held executive positions for Harrah's Entertainment and Players Island Hotel Casino. Prior to starting her career in operations in 1995, Walker served 13 years as assistant general counsel for the New Jersey Casino Control Commission.
"We have been impressed over the past year with Ms. Walker's steady and innovative approaches to many of the difficult challenges our industry has faced," Redeye said. "We have every confidence in Cathy's ability to work with the board in implementing our priorities."
The Senecas operate full-scale casinos in Niagara Falls and Salamanca, and a smaller facility in Buffalo.
Since last August, when construction was halted on the planned $333 million Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino, the tribe's gambling operations have been in turmoil.
Snyder's vice chairman on the gambling board, Bergal Mitchell III, resigned in September after FBI agents began investigating allegations that nearly $900,000 was skimmed from a land deal for a Seneca golf course in Lewiston.
Snyder was ousted from the chairmanship last month, after an audit raised questions about the land deal and other gambling corporation business operations.
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