HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) – A family court judge in New York has issued an arrest warrant for the chairman of the Indian tribe that runs Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut as part of a child custody case.

The Westchester County Family Court judge issued the warrant on Monday because Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Chairman Michael Thomas failed to turn over his 4-year-old daughter to her mother, said David Bookstaver, a spokesman for the New York court system.

The girl’s mother, Vanessa Hyman of New Rochelle, N.Y., said Thomas took the child for a routine visit May 17 and was supposed to return her the next day, but did not. Hyman went to the tribal police department Tuesday morning in eastern Connecticut to try to get her daughter back, but was unsuccessful.

Hyman said tribal police told her she would have to bring the issue before the tribal court on Wednesday.

“All I want to do is take my daughter home,” Hyman said. “I don’t know how she is, where she is. He just took her away.”

Thomas occupies a powerful position as chairman of the 850-member Mashantucket Pequot tribe.

The tribe owns Foxwoods, one of the largest casinos in the world located about an hour’s drive southeast of Hartford.

Linda Mariani, Thomas’ attorney, said the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Court granted Thomas custody of his daughter in February in proceedings that began in 2004. She said courts in New York and Connecticut ruled against Hyman earlier.

Mariani alleged in a written statement that Hyman, in documents submitted to the New York court, falsely said that her daughter was not the subject of action by any other court, and wrongly said the girl was not a Native American child subject to the Indian Child Welfare Act.

Thomas has hired a New York attorney to try to have the family court judge’s orders vacated, Mariani said.

“Please be assured that all involved are working toward a parenting plan that will serve the best interests of this child,” Mariani said.

Joshua Katz, Hyman’s lawyer, said the family court judge ruled that the couple’s daughter should be released to Hyman’s custody immediately and ordered the arrest warrant because Thomas did not bring the child to court Monday so that she could be returned to her mother.

Katz also said the judge ruled that New York state has jurisdiction over custody of the girl.

“I would hope that this poor little girl is able to come home to her mother and sister and go back to school,” Katz said.

The girl is supposed to attend her upcoming preschool graduation, her mother said.

Hyman talked with state troopers about the issue at the Ledyard post office Tuesday.

Trooper William Tate, a state police spokesman, said state police would not enforce a civil court order unless it came from a court in Connecticut.

He did say authorities were trying to help resolve the dispute.

Hyman appeared at Norwich Superior Court Tuesday, but was referred to tribal court, according to David Gage, deputy chief clerk.


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