WASHINGTON – The Ute Indian Tribe of the Uintah and Ouray Reservation of Northern Utah has announced a lawsuit against John Jurrius and business entities affiliated with him.
According to a release authorized by the Cesspooch administration, the lawsuit, filed in federal court in Colorado, levels four specific allegations against Jurrius and his affiliated companies:
- “Assuming, without investing its own capital, an equity position in the tribe’s investments and projects.”
- “Failure to properly notify the tribe of … intention to exercise … participation option.”
- A claim that Jurrius and his affiliate companies misrepresented themselves as licensed investment advisers; and that he
- Violated fiduciary duties of good faith and fair dealing.
Jurrius, who said he had not been served with papers in the case as of Sept. 16 and only learned about it from the press and through the Internet, called the lawsuit “politics at its worst.”
“I can’t emphasize enough that the people of the Northern Ute tribe are my friends,” said the former energy development specialist for the tribe, who held the official title of financial adviser. “I hate it that my name is linked with litigation, but court is the place for it. They don’t like what the previous council agreed to and they want to change it.”
Uintah and Ouray Ute Chairman Curtis Cesspooch said he isn’t worried about conveying a message of tribal political strife and dysfunction to potential investors. The message they should take away is that they must do business openly, for all the tribe to see, in a manner all of its citizens can understand. Jurrius insists the complex transactions that created the new Ute energy companies were conducted openly and are, in fact, on film.
Tom Fredericks, general counsel for the Ute with the firm of Fredericks Peebles & Morgan LLC, acknowledged political disputes on the reservation but denied that they motivate the lawsuit. “This had nothing to do with politics. This had to do with an audit of venture fund records.” His firm and the tribe took the audit results to a financial specialty firm, Milberg LLP in New York City, which advised proceeding with a lawsuit, he said.
At the core of the dispute is Jurrius’ share in the current and future profits of two tribal companies, Ute Energy Holdings LLC and Ute Energy LLC. Fredericks estimated the value of the two companies to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars, with great growth potential from there. Jurrius’ purported stake in the future profits of the companies is just under 15 percent, he said.
As part of a team effort, Jurrius had helped to create similar entities with the Southern Ute. Cesspooch emphasizes that this doesn’t mean Jurrius made the Southern Ute wealthy, something Jurrius has never disputed.
The financial performance of tribal energy companies Jurrius helped to create has led to his description in print as everything from a sheriff to a messiah, but Jurrius has consistently stated that his only goal is to make money – one dollar for every 10 that goes to the tribes.
Cesspooch said that since Jurrius ceased to work for the tribe, its energy revenues have been on the rise. He denied that the increase is due to astronomical rises in global energy prices since Jurrius left the tribe’s service. He gave “better dealings” as the reason, providing no detail.
The Cesspooch administration got into office on an anti-Jurrius platform, Jurrius said, adding that discrediting him is its game plan for staying in office in the February and May 2009 elections. Jurrius and his affiliate companies participated in profits under the previous administration, he said, always as called for by his contract with the tribe.
His contract also called for a monthly salary of up to $62,500 a month, Fredericks said. Neither Cesspooch nor Fredericks volunteered a comment on whether full payment to Jurrius of a $750,000 annual salary reflects services fully rendered.