Oneida Nation sues over fees to county attorney

The Oneida Indian Nation is backing a lawsuit against Madison County Attorney S. John Campanie and New York Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, claiming the attorney improperly received more than $800,000 over 13 years from a law firm he helped pick to fight county legal battles with the Oneidas.

"While making a salary as County Attorney, John Campanie was and continues to illegally receive compensation for county legal work paid to him by an outside law firm that he helped select to represent Madison County," said Mark Emery, director of media relations for the Oneida Nation. "The arrangement Campanie set up is a clear violation of both county and state law, and must be stopped immediately."

The suit filed in state Supreme Court in Albany says DiNapoli was contacted last October about the allegedly improper payments but failed to do anything about it.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of two county residents, Steven Mahler and Daniel Garrow, who work for the Oneidas. The Oneidas own and operate the Turning Stone casino and resort. It seeks restitution and a court order to end the payments, claiming they violate state and county law.

Madison County officials have issued a response to the lawsuit, calling it a "desperate attempt to deny effective counsel to the County of Madison and the State of New York." They say the arrangement for Campaine's pay was first disclosed in 1998 and has long since been public knowledge.

Click here to download and read a copy of Madison County's response to the lawsuit.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this article.