A federal court judge has ruled that the former chief and three councillors of a Manitoba aboriginal reserve used "illegitimate means," including a "bogus" resolution, to cling to power when members of their own community threw them out of office.
Justice James Russell ruled that Terrance Nelson ceased being chief of the Roseau River Anishinabe First Nation on Sept. 20, 2011, the day the community's Custom Council removed him over his refusal to co-operate with an audit into the band's financial affairs.
The Custom Council is the band's governing authority and is made up of one representative from each family in the community.
Nelson was a candidate last year for the top job at the Assembly of First Nations.
Russell ruled that Nelson, along with several other band councillors who were also removed, attempted to dissolve the Custom Council.
When that didn't work, Russell said they "attempted to concoct and/or rely upon a fake Custom Council resolution" to reinstate themselves.
The dispute caused financial havoc for the community, with financial institutions freezing the band's accounts and band employees unsure who to take orders from.
Russell ruled that Kenneth Henry Jr., who was elected in a byelection to replace Russell, is the legitimate chief.
"The evidence before the Court establishes reprehensible, scandalous and outrageous conduct on the part of the Nelson Respondents," Russell wrote in the ruling, which was released Thursday.