Barry Snyder ousted as head of Seneca Gaming
By Michael Beebe
News Staff Reporter

Barry E. Snyder Sr. was removed as chairman of the Seneca Gaming Corp. today by the gambling company's board of directors.

Snyder, 68, was removed in a surprise vote by the board, which then elected Norman "Cochise" Redeye, a retired Erie County sheriff's detective, to replace Snyder.

Snyder, who remains as president of the Seneca Nation of Indians, has served as chairman of the gambling operations since 2004.

Snyder is millionaire who made his money selling tax-free cigarettes and gasoline, one of the first Senecas to do so. His control of Seneca Gaming has turned controversial in recent years.

A planned $333 million Buffalo Creek Casino, which Seneca critics have dubbed too expensive, was temporarily halted in August, Snyder said, because of the downturn in the economy. Its steel superstructure, erected at a cost of $82 million, rusts alongside the temporary Buffalo casino.

In November, Snyder forced out the highest ranking Native American in Seneca Gaming, Barry W. Brandon, the company's general counsel who had helped bring casino gambling to the Senecas.

Brandon received nearly $600,000 in severance pay, which denied him the right to speak about why he left. But his friends and fellow workers at Seneca Gaming said Snyder forced him to leave.

And then in December, faced with declining revenues, Seneca Gaming laid off 210 employees, five percent of its work force.

The reason became clear by month's end, when Seneca Gaming's annual report to the Securities and Exchange Commission reported a 13.9 percent drop in earnings.