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MILWAUKEE — The National Indian Gaming Commission has proposed fining the St. Croix Chippewa $5.5 million over accusations that the Wisconsin tribe's leaders pocketed at least $1.5 million in casino funds.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that the commission's chairman, Jonodev Chaudhuri, issued a notice of the proposed fines on Thursday. It comes a month after Chaudhuri charged the tribe with 527 violations of federal and tribal ordinances.

The maximum fine for the alleged violations would be $27.7 million.

Chaudhuri says the tribal leaders' actions were "egregious" given the tribe's precarious financial situation. Many members of the Burnett County-based tribe live in poverty.

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Regulators say some of the funds were used for trips to Hawaii and Las Vegas.

The tribe can appeal the recommended fine to commissioners.

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