Texas Federal Court Confirms $9M+ Default Judgment against Former Wall Street Broker Who Hoodwinked Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe

Here are materials in Purshe Kaplan Sterling Inc. v. Vungarala (N.D. Tex.):

1 Complaint

1-1 Exhibits

16 Magistrate Order

19 DCT Order

Here is the 2020 SEC opinion related to the matter:

SEC Opinion


In November 2008, Vungarala began working as an in-house investment manager for a sovereign Native American Tribe (the “Tribe”). The Tribe operates a resort and several casinos.

. . .

Vungarala was responsible for managing, evaluating, and monitoring the Tribe’s investment portfolio. He worked in the Tribe’s Treasury Department and reported to Angela Osterman, who was appointed the Tribe’s Treasury Administrator less than a month before Vungarala was hired. Osterman did not analyze or select investments or read prospectuses. She focused on managing the Tribe’s budget, authorizing leave for department employees, and ensuring that policies and procedures were followed. Her prior investment experience was limited to her personal retirement account. The Treasury Department also had two research analysts with little investment experience and no professional certifications. Vungarala gave the research analysts assignments and taught them how to put information together for presentations to the Investment Committee. Osterman and the research analysts did little independent research and viewed Vungarala as the expert on investments.

. . .

At some point, Vungarala learned that the Tribe’s previous outside financial adviser earned more than $1 million a year. In comparison, Vungarala believed his salary amounted to him working “pro bono.” Vungarala also believed that the Tribe treated him poorly because he was not a tribal member, and felt that his office was too small and that his colleagues treated him as an underling.

. . .

Vungarala first presented non-traded REITs and BDCs to the Investment Committee in June 2011. Meeting minutes read into the record reflect that Osterman told the committee that, because Schwab did not offer non-traded REITs and BDCs, the Tribe could “utilize PKS, Gopi’s brokerage firm.” Osterman said that “the Tribe will not have to sign any agreements with them, PKS has agreed to allow the Tribe to use them with no strings attached.” She added that “[t]here will be no conflict of interest on Gopi’s behalf since he is not getting paid by with [sic] the company.” Although Vungarala was present, he did not correct Osterman’s statements.

. . .

After the Investment Committee approved a recommendation from Vungarala, the recommendation went to the Legal Department for review. Although the Legal Department did not raise any concerns about fees, the Legal Department opposed each investment based upon its concern that purchasing REITs and BDCs would jeopardize the Tribe’s sovereign immunity by subjecting it to arbitration in connection with any dispute. Notwithstanding the Legal Department’s opposition, over the three-and-a-half years that Vungarala recommended that the Tribe invest in non-traded REITS and BDCs, the Tribal Council rejected only two out of more than 200 recommendations. 

From 2011 through 2014, the portion of the Tribe’s portfolio devoted to non-traded REITs and BDCs increased from 0% to almost 23%—amounting to nearly $200 million. The REIT and BDC statements that PKS generated did not itemize commissions. Vungarala received $9,682,629 in commissions from PKS as a result of the sales of non-traded REITs and BDCs to the Tribe.

Texas v. Zinke Update: Stay Denied; Navajo Nation Files Motion to Intervene

In Texas v. Zinke, the ICWA case in the northern district of Texas, the district court judge denied the four intervening defendant tribes’ motion to stay the decision. There has been no stay request filed in the Fifth Circuit nor a notice of appeal.

Navajo Nation filed a motion to intervene for the purpose of appeal.

Statement from Partnership for Native Children explaining the stay is here.

Case page is here, media page is here.

Federal Judge Rules ICWA Unconstitutional in Brackeen v. Zinke

Here is the opinion in Brackeen v. Zinke (N.D. Tex.):

166_DCT Order.pdf

Case page with briefs here.

A federal court has held that ICWA violates the equal protection component of the Fifth Amendment’s Due Process Clause, rejecting the Morton v. Mancari argument and applying strict scrutiny. The court further held that ICWA violated the Tenth Amendment’s prohibition on commandeering state legislative functions. The court more or less summarily rejected the argument that the Indian Commerce Clause authorized Congress to enact ICWA. Finally, the court struck down the ICWA regulations.

Still, there will certainly be an appeal. The case is limited only to the parties involved.

Texas v. Zinke (ICWA Challenge) April Update

There were some thirty entries on the Texas v. Zinke docket this month. Relevant documents are on the case page.

Since our last update, the feds filed another motion to dismiss. The plaintiffs’ seperated into private and state parties for briefing–so the state plaintiffs have filed one brief, and the individual plaintiffs filed another (up to 70 pages each). Both, however, filed a combined opposition to the government’s motion to dismiss and motions for summary judgment.

Ohio and Goldwater have filed amicus briefs on the opposition to the motion to dismiss.

Navajo Nation motioned to intervene for the purpose of a Rule 19 dismissal.

The federal government and the plaintiffs are going back and forth on the scheduling of additional briefing, but there are no orders yet.

Update in Texas v. Zinke (federal ICWA case)

Here are the updated filings in the federal ICWA case in Texas:

The federal government filed a motion to dismiss, here.

But THEN, Plaintiffs filed (another) amended complaint–here.

It’s about 8 pages longer than the previous complaint, and adds the Department of Health and Human Services, the Secretary of the Department, and the United States as defendants. While the complaint still requests the court find all of ICWA unconstitutional and unenforceable, it also broadens the discussion beyond 1915 placement preferences to the collateral challenge provisions in 1913 and 1914. The complaint also still contends that certain provisions of IV-B and IV-E (parts of the Social Security Act) are not enforceable–those that purportedly link state compliance with ICWA to federal funding.

The feds will file another (slightly longer) motion to dismiss, and it will be here as soon as it is available.

However, the court has ALSO granted the tribal motion for intervention, available here.

New Amended Complaint in ICWA Suit Texas (Brackeen) v. Zinke

The plaintiffs in the ICWA suit out of the federal court in Texas asked for time to file an amended complaint. It’s here. Case page is here.

Additional state parties are Indiana and Louisiana. Additional children involved are from White Earth and Ysleta del sur Pueblo.

A word of warning–I swore at the complaint by paragraph 4.

ETA: This interesting (related?) article out of Indiana: DCS Director Resigns 

Press Release and Coverage Regarding Texas v. Zinke (ICWA Challenge)

California Tribal Families Coalition, News Release Tribal Coalition Urges Attorneys General to Protect Tribal Children

A coalition of California tribes and leaders today urged state attorneys general across 18 states and U.S. territories to stand with tribes in support of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) as it faces an outrageous legal challenge that seeks to unwind decades of critical legal protections for tribal children and families.

The letter sent on November 4, 2017 by the Sacramento-based California Tribal Families Coalition to the Conference of Western Attorneys General comes on the heels of an Oct. 25th federal lawsuit filed by the State of Texas and two foster care parents challenging the constitutionality of the ICWA.

California Daily Journal, Critics Distort Indian Child Welfare Law.

Law 360, New Indian Child Welfare Act Challenges On The Horizon

The Texas v. Zinke documents are here.


(I have seen and am choosing not to post the recent National Review op-ed by Tim Sandefur.)


Texas and Prospective Adoptive Parents File Constitutional Challenge to ICWA and Regulations

Complaint here (northern district of Texas).

Additional documents will be posted here.

Plaintiffs thus bring this action for declaratory and injunctive relief and pray that this court:

(1) vacate and set aside the Final Rule;

(2) declare that Sections 1901–1923 and 1951–1952 of ICWA violate the Constitution;

(3) declare that Section 1915 of ICWA violates the Constitution;

(4) enjoin the defendants from implementing or administering Sections 1901–1923 and 1951–1952 of ICWA; and

(5) enjoin the defendants from implementing or administering Section 1915 of ICWA.

Federal Court Dismisses Access Fees Suit against Two Tribal Telecommunications Companies

Here are the relevant materials in MCI Communications Services Inc. v. Arizona Telephone Co. (N.D. Tex.):

37 Tribal Telecommunications Companies Motion to Dismiss

41 Opposition

42 Reply

48 Surreply

49 Final Tribal Reply

50 DCT Order

An excerpt:

In this action by two interexchange carriers (“IXCs”) seeking relief related to access fees that local exchange carriers (“LECs”) charge the IXCs to provide access services for wireless intraMTA calls, three defendants move to dismiss under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1) based on tribal immunity. For the reasons explained, the court grants the motion and also grants plaintiffs leave to replead.

More “Karluk Tribal Court”/”Karluk Supreme Court” Nonsense

Here are the materials in Remenar v. Office of Dana Scarp (D. D.C.), where the court dismissed a mandamus petition of a non-lawyer seeking admission to practice claiming to be licensed by the fake “Karluk Tribal Court” out of Washington state (not to be confused with the federally recognized Indian nation in Alaska):

Petition for Mandamus Relief

Judge Leon Opinion

And here are materials in Mr. Remenar’s criminal case in Texas:

State of Texas v. Remenar Removal Petition


We’ve posted materials on the people claiming to represent this fake tribal court and fake tribe here, here, here, here, here, and here.