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A legal saga involving a tribal chief wannabe has come to an end.

All charges in San Joaquin County Superior Court against William Bills, who claims to be chief of the Winnemucca Indian Colony, have been dropped.

Bills was arrested last year after Wells Fargo bank employees in Lodi became convinced he was trying to gain access to the Winnemucca Shoshone colony’s bank account.

On Sept. 30, Bills allegedly delivered paperwork to the Lodi branch bank to authorize his use of funds in the Winnemucca colony accounts. Bank workers contacted the colony, were told Bills had no claim on colony money, and brought in the police, who set up the sting. Bills was called and told he could come to the bank and pick up his paperwork. While he was at the bank, he was arrested. He was found to be in possession of a security pass to Travis Air Force Base and other identity documents. He was charged with suspicion of attempted grand theft and other crimes.

Charges of fraud and identity theft were dropped in February. The final charge of attempted grand theft was dropped last week.

His attorney conceded that if Bills had changed the signatures on the account, it would have been a crime. But he said Bills only tried to change the signatures. Since he didn’t actually do so, no crime was committed.

His involvement with the colony dates back to 1996 when he was accepted by colony members who believed he was Native American. He is Filipino. By the time information on his birth and background came out, he was on the tribal council. Shortly before the council was set to decide on taking Bills’ name off tribal rolls, council chair Glenn Wasson was murdered, and vice chair Bills succeeded to the top spot. Since then, the colony has drifted between factions, neither of which recognizes Bills as chair.

Before the bank dispute, Bills—in trying to sell plans for a tribal casino at Flag City—had also tried to convince county officials that he was Native American and was empowered to speak for the Winnemucca colony.

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Dennis Myers

Dennis Myers was the news editor of the Reno News & Review. He was a journalist for more than four decades. In 1987-88 he was chief deputy secretary of state of Nevada. He was coauthor of Uniquely...