Firm News Blog


(December 13, 2013) – A 6-week trial in a major white collar prosecution in U.S. District Court ended yesterday in not guilty verdict for an Atlanta businessman charged in a 2-count indictment with running an illegal gambling operation along with 2 co-defendants. Joseph Hight, represented by Michael McDermott of O’Connell and Aronowitz, was among three defendants found not guilty on all charges after 3 days of jury deliberation in a case that involved what prosecutors alleged was an illegal casino in Hogansburg, Franklin County on the St. Regis Mohawk reservation located on New York’s border with Canada.

The case centered on whether the Three Feathers Casino, operated by the co-defendants who are members of the People of the Way of the Long House tribe and which was supplied with gambling equipment through Mr. Hight’s firm Nex Gaming, were in violation of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act which only allows tribes recognized by the Department of the Interior and approved by the National Indian Gaming Commission to operate a Class II gambling enterprise.

“When I started down this road in business with Three Feathers Casino, I honestly believed in what they wanted to achieve and what they needed,” said Hight, who has been a vendor in the gambling device business for almost 20 years. “But when the federal government turns it resources onto you, it’s a very scary thing”.

The prosecution undertook an exhaustive effort to prove the illegality of the casino which operated from July 2011 to September 2012. However, with only 1 witness from the defense and successful cross-examination of the state’s 21 witnesses, the defense prevailed with the jury returning not guilty verdict on all charges.

“This verdict speaks for itself,” said Michael McDermott, a partner at O’Connell and Aronowitz and an integral part of the firm’s prestigious Criminal Defense practice.

“The defendants relied on a good faith defense claiming that at all times they thought they were acting within the law as a traditional tribal government that had the authority to operate a casino on the reservation.”

Hight applauds Mr. McDermott’s legal acumen. “He is a commanding presence in the court room. I had total confidence in a successful outcome when the case went to the jury”.

Named a 2013 “Best Law Firm” by Best Lawyers and US News and World Report, O’Connell and Aronowitz is one of the Capital District’s largest and most diverse law firms. With more than 35 attorneys and offices in Albany, Saratoga, and Plattsburgh, the Firm provides a broad range of legal services to businesses and individuals throughout the State. Mr. McDermott is available at (518) 462-5601 or by e-mail at: For more information on O’Connell and Aronowitz, please visit:

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