Former Cowlitz Indian Tribe spiritual leader Roy Wilson is scheduled to plead guilty and be sentenced for animal neglect charges Wednesday morning at the Lewis County Superior Court, according to court records.
The decision to plead guilty comes about a week after Cowlitz Tribe General Council Secretary David Barnett, who first alerted news organizations to the allegations against Wilson, resigned from his position in early March. As a major force behind creation of the tribe’s Ilani casino, Barnett is likely making millions of dollars off the northern Clark County gaming and entertainment location.
Wilson and his wife, Cherilyn Wilson, were both originally charged in Lewis County with first-degree felony animal cruelty and five misdemeanor counts of cruelty to animals. In September, deputies and veterinarians reported finding dogs kept in filthy runs and a pony suffering from a painful hoof disease on the Wilsons’ property in Winlock.
Cherilyn Wilson, 68, pleaded guilty Feb. 7 to a single count of first-degree animal cruelty and two misdemeanor counts of cruelty to animals. She was sentenced to six months’ probation. She was also prohibited from owning any animals, other than a dog and a cat which she already owned.
Prosecuting attorney Brad Meagher could not be immediately reached to confirm Wilson’s scheduled guilty plea, although it is listed for an early morning docket at the Lewis County Superior Court.
Roy Wilson, when contacted Thursday, declined to comment under advisement from his attorney.
In a November interview at his Dorning Road property, Wilson, 91, denied any occurrence of animal cruelty and said the animals had been “well-fared, well-doctored, and well taken care of.”
Barnett was a crusading figure in notifying news agencies of the Wilsons’ animal neglect charges. He said Tuesday that his resignation was voluntary and he had previously planned to do so in June, citing concerns about a proposed state capital gains tax.
“If it passes, it would be a significant tax hit on me, so I may be moving out of the state,” Barnett told The Daily News Tuesday.
He declined to speak further on his resignation and said he would defer to Cowlitz Tribe chairman Bill Iyall.
Iyall confirmed that Barnett resigned but declined to talk about Wilson’s case. He said the case was a personal matter for Wilson.
Barnett’s late father, John Barnett, was the Cowlitz tribal chairman from 1982 until his death in 2008. Both men played key roles in the tribe’s construction of the $510 million Ilani casino resort.
A 2006 TDN article determined that under its management contract with the Cowlitz tribe, Salishan-Mohegan (an LCC owned by a subsidiary of the Mohegan Tribe of Connecticut and Barnett) will receive 24 percent of the first seven years’ net revenue — about $45 million a year, under revenue projections by Forbes Magazine. The Mohegan Tribe would get just over half of that, based on its 54 percent ownership of the Salishan-Mohegan partnership. Barnett, as the other major partner in Salishan-Mohegan, would get the rest.