"Our employees are dedicated to the pursuit of the protection of Tribal Assets while insuring fairness and integrity throughout."
Rita served in the US Navy aboard the USS Acadia prior to working as an Office Manager at a Women's Clinic. She began her career with the TGC in March ‘98 as a Gaming Inspector, working her way through a variety of titles before being hired as the Executive Director in May ‘17. While working for the Commission Rita received a Bachelors in Business Administration furthering her education to a Master's in Management in Leadership at Montreat College in '09. Her downtime is spent with her family.
Meet Our Staff
Our Staff consists of highly trained personnel who have well over a combined total of 236 years of gaming experience as of 2015. Over 80% of our staff has a Bachelor's degree or higher. We operate under our own separate Personnel Policy from the Tribe and Casino. Our Staff is highly motivated and well trained. The Executive Director is hired by the Tribal Gaming Commission Commissioners. The day to day staff report directly to the Managers and Supervisors at each property. The Managers report directly to the Executive Director.
(Click photo to read each employees biography) *This function does not work on the Mobile Site
Executive Director - Cherokee Tribal Gaming Commission
Main Office Staff
Main Office Phone Numbers:
828-497-0089 - FAX
Tonya came to the Commission in 1999 as a Background/License Officer, from Tribal Bingo. She later became the Administrative Manager. Tonya holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration. She resides in the Wolftown Community with her husband and two children, Kendall and Anthony.
Melissa has been employed with the Cherokee Tribal Gaming Commission since September 1999. She resides in the Birdtown Community with her three children: Blake, Rossi and Jaxtyn. She has an Associate's and Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration from Montreat College. She oversees an annual budget for the Commission of $7.2 million dollars.
Teia came to work at the Gaming commission in 2015 as the receptionist at the Main office. Then started as a license officer in 2016. In her free time she enjoys spending time with her kids, Memphis and Charlie Rose.
Tonya "Sunshine" Toineeta
Cherokee Office Phone Numbers:
828-497-7935 - FAX
Emra came to the TGC with a total of 12 years Casino Experience. She began in Table Games and then moved to the Casino Marketing Team as a Casino Host. Emra climbed the ladder to a Casino Marketing Manager where she oversaw the VIP Host Team. Emra holds a Bachelor Degree in Psychology and in History from ETSU. She also holds a Master’s Degree in Legal Studies from the University of Oklahoma, specializing in Indian Law. Emra enjoys globetrotting and spending time with her family and friends.
Don lives in the Big Cove Community with his wife. He holds a Masters Degree in Management and Leadership from Montreat College. He has 3 children and enjoys gardening and enjoying his grandchildren.
Shelly has been with the Commission since 2012. She graduated from Southwestern Community College with a diploma in HVAC and Heating and Refrigeration, in which she also holds universal certification. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her family and enjoying the outdoors.
Katie started her career with the Gaming Commission in 2017. Before coming to the Commission, Katie was employed for 11.5 years by Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort. Katie held positions in the Food and Beverage and Beverage/Operations departments. Katie is currently working towards her Bachelors in Business Management. She enjoys spending time with her three children, Cohen, Jayla, and Teigan and her husband Jeremy.
In 2019 Verlin has been with the Commission for 20 years, prior to the Commission he worked for Harrah’s Cherokee Casino. In his spare time, Verlin enjoys fishing and the outdoors. He resides in the 3200 Acre Tract Community.
Roy has been with the Commission since October of 2012 and began working in the gaming industry in 2008. He holds diplomas in HVAC and Refrigeration Technology and Electrical/Electronic Technology from Southwestern Community College. The most important interest he has outside of work is his family, wife, Maria and sons Steve and William. Other interests are hunting, fishing, football, basketball, and other outdoor activities which keep him active.
Telly has worked for the Commission since 2004, prior to that he worked at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino in the positions of Impressment Staff and as a Games Performance Slot Technician. Telly has 3 degrees from Western Carolina University that include a degree in European History, Modern Philosophy, and Special Education.
Sandy joined the Gaming Commission in 2015. She previously worked for Harrahs Cherokee Casino in the Finance and Surveillance Departments. She holds a AA, AS in Forest Technology and a BS in Natural Resources from Western Carolina University. In her spare time she loves spending time outdoors and at home with her three cats and one dog.
Shawn started working in the gaming industry in 1995 at the Tribal Casino/Bingo with 30 machines. Shawn quickly became an Operations Supervisor. During his employment as Operations Supervisor, he received Excellence in Management and Supervisory training certificates. He left the industry in 2002, and returned in 2012 as a Surveillance Officer, prior to joining the Commission in Jan. 2015. Shawn’s hobbies include hunting and watching his children play sports.
Matt began his career at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino in 2006 and has held various positions during his tenure such as Game technician, Gaming Host, Surveillance, and VIP Host. Matthew has certifications in diversity training, negotiations, and risk management. Matthew’s hobbies include motorcycling, antiques, and traveling.
Jon came to the commission in 2016 after having worked in the Surveillance Dept. for Harrah's Cherokee. Jon earned a BS in Fisheries & Wildlife Management from NC State. He is a Founding Sponsor of the Appalachian Rivers Aquarium in Bryson City, where he enjoys volunteering as the Aquarium Biologist.
Phasouk began working for the Gaming Commission in 2016. He joined Harrah’s Cherokee in 2009 and had held positions in the Table Games and Beverage Departments where he was a Supervisor. Phasouk attended GA State University after serving 8 years in the US Navy. He enjoys playing golf, weight training, and spending time with his dog.
Robert was with Harrah's Cherokee for 19 Years total. He has held positions in Games Performance, Finance and Operations. Robert is currently pursuing a degree in Accounting. He enjoys spending time with his 3 children, playing bass guitar and video gaming.
Brian began working for the commission in 2018. He began his employment with Harrah's Cherokee Casino in April 1998. Brian spent over 20 years working on the Drop Team. Brian likes to spend his free time with his 3 kids.
Andrew spent 4 years in the United States Army before joining the staff at Harrahs Cherokee Casino Resort as a Dual-Rate Surveillance Supervisor. Andrew held that position for two and a half years before he joined the Gaming Commission in 2018 at our Murphy property. Andrew enjoys playing PC games and spending time at the gun range in his spare time.
Luther left the Casino after working just over 2 years in the Surveillance Department as a Dual Rate Supervisor. Luther has a degree from Southwestern Community College in Cyber Crime Technologies. In his spare time he enjoys spending time with his family and fishing.
Jordan joined the Commission in 2019. He has previously held his North Carolina State Law Enforcement Certification, and currently holds a Certificate from SCC in Business Administration. He previously served as a Police Officer with the CIPD for several years before joining the Surveillance Department at the Cherokee Property. His hobbies include spending time with his family, taking his family hiking, outdoor photography, competitive gaming, and volunteering with local non-profit groups.
Asst. Supervisor of Enforcement
Supervisor of Enforcement
Manager of Enforcement
Luther "Luke" Huffman
Valley River Office Phone Numbers:
828-422-5222 - FAX
Jim came to the Commission from the Casino where he held the position of Surveillance Manager. He has a total of 22 plus years of Gaming experience. He holds a Master’s Degree from Montreat College. Jim has been married for 19 years and has 3 Daughters ages 2, 9, and 18. Jim enjoys fishing, Sports and family time.
Luke Buchanan is the Supervisor of Enforcement at the Murphy property. Luke currently holds an Associates Degree in Criminal Justice from Tri-County Community College. Luke has 22+ years in the gaming industry. Luke enjoys traveling, cooking, and playing golf with his wife Beth.
Stephen was born in Sylva and now resides in Marble with his wife Erin and their children. In his spare time he enjoys spending time with his family and playing Magic the Gathering. He has attended Southwestern Community College and Western Carolina University where he studied History and Political Science.
Wanda has been with the Tribal Gaming Commission since it was originally established. She earned both her B.S. in Business Administration and her M.S. in Management and Leadership from Montreat College. Over the years she has held several positions with the Gaming Commission. In her spare time, Wanda enjoys traveling with her family.
Bruce came to the commission from the Casino where he worked in the Surveillance Department. He has previously worked for the Jackson County Justice Center and as a Public Safety Officer for Southwestern Community College. His hobbies include Gunsmithing, Competitive Marksmanship and spending time with his 2 daughters Alaina and Madeline.
Tina joined the Gaming Commission in 2015. Before coming to the Gaming Commission she worked for Harrahs Cherokee for a total of 14 years. Tina holds an Associates Degree in Information Technologies. She currently resides in Murphy with her husband Steve. She is a proud mother of 3 children and in her spare time she enjoys spending time with family and cooking.
Tim joined the Commission in January 2015. Tim is a graduate of Pisgah High School and has a degree in Electronic Engineering. Tim worked at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino as a technician for three years. Tim spends his spare time in the outdoors as much as possible.
Chris started in the Surveillance Department of Harrah's Valley River Casino and Hotel when the new property opened. Chris holds a Bachelor's and Masters Degree from the University of Central Florida. He enjoys Music and Hiking in his spare time.
Dominick started at the Murphy Casino in 2015 with the Surveillance Department. Dominick joined the Gaming Commission in 2017. Dominick is a Appalachian State Graduate and holds a Bachelor's Degree in Criminal Justice. In his spare time, Dominick likes to travel and watch soccer.
A native of Croatia, Zel started in the gaming industry in Indiana. Zel moved to Murphy and joined Games Performance at Harrah's Cherokee Valley River before the new property opened. He enjoys spending time at home with his wife in a house full of animals.
A native of Northeastern Ohio, Frank moved to Murphy to escape the cold winters. Frank joined the Gaming Commission in 2017 after 7 years in the Table Games Department. Frank now resides in Scenic Andrews, North Carolina with his wife, Amelia. In his spare time, Frank enjoys camping, cooking, grilling, and reading.
Zach is originally from South Florida, and started working for the casino back in 2016 as a hotel clerk. Then in 2017 he joined surveillance. He is currently working on getting a bachelor's in business management. In his spare time he likes to workout, play video games, and read.
Supervisor of Enforcement
Manager of Enforcement
Assist. Supervisor of Enforcement
Zeljko "Zel" Jagatic
Zachary "Zach" Willie
Bingo Office Phone Numbers:
828-497-4320 - FAX