Seminole Tribe of Florida Leaders Spend Lavishly

MIAMI (AP) _ A newspaper's investigation shows the Seminole Tribe of Florida's leaders have spent millions on lavish homes, boxing rings, basketball courts and other gifts for themselves as its gambling enterprise has expanded into one of the nation's largest.

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports that since 2000, members of the Seminoles' Tribal Council have spent more than 280 million dollars from funds they control on such items as luxury vehicles, televisions, stereo systems, and cosmetic surgery for tribal members.

The newspaper reviewed thousands of pages of tribal documents. The spending triggered audits by federal regulators, and complaints among Seminoles that the gambling profits benefit certain members at the expense of the rest.

The tribe operates seven Florida casinos and recently purchased the Hard Rock International hotel and restaurant chain for nearly one billion dollars.

Under federal law, tribes can spend gambling profits only on five broad categories, including funding government services and providing "for the general welfare of the tribe.''

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