TRIBAL JUSTICE NEWS
Jan. 6, 2012
News Feature: Read "Prevention & Recovery"(www.samhsa.gov/tloa/docs/newsletter/pq-v1-122111.pdf), a newsletter recently published by the Multi-Agency Alcohol and Substance Abuse Prevention Collaboration. The quarterly newsletter highlights efforts by the Departments of Justice, Interior, and Health and Human Services to address alcohol and substance abuse in American Indian and Alaska Native communities by working together. Read more about this multi-agency collaboration: www.samhsa.gov/tloa.
INDIAN COUNTRY PUBLIC SAFETY INITIATIVES
Crow Tribal Attorney Wins 2011 District of Montana Award for Exceptional Contributions in Indian Country (U.S. Attorney for the District Of Montana)
U.S. Attorney Michael W. Cotter announced that Crow Tribal Attorney Diane Cabrera is the 2011 winner of the District of Montana’s “Working Hard, Making a Difference” award. The award was created to recognize individuals in Indian Country who have made significant contributions to public safety.
Diane Cabrera, a native Chamorro from Saipan, has been a tribal prosecutor for the Crow Tribe of Montana since June 2007. Ms. Cabrera also serves as a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District Montana. In that role, Ms. Cabrera can follow certain cases that arise on the reservation, such as misdemeanor domestic violence charges, where the perpetrator is a non-Indian, into federal court. Ms. Cabrera was appointed by Attorney General Eric Holder in 2010 to serve on the U.S. Department of Justice Federal/Tribal Domestic Violence Task Force. Additionally, Ms. Cabrera has been instrumental in organizing the first ever Montana/Wyoming tribal prosecutors organization.
“Ms. Cabrera is a consistent and competent tribal prosecutor,” said U.S. Attorney Michael W. Cotter. “Also, she is a critical law enforcement partner to us. Under Ms. Cabrera’s leadership, our offices have a free flow of communication that is incredibly important in our joint effort to quell violence on the Crow Indian Reservation. Finally, Ms. Cabrera is a stand out nationally. She lends a pragmatic, reliable and valuable voice to policy makers and others in her field. I am delighted to honor her with the ‘Working Hard, Making a Difference’ award.”
Former Navajo Police Department Officer Indicted On Civil Rights Charges (Civil Rights Division, U.S. Department of Justice)
On Dec. 28, 2011, a federal grand jury in Albuquerque, N.M., indicted a former police officer with the Navajo Police Department on charges related to the sexual abuse of a woman who was in his custody on Jan. 25, 2009. Lawrence Etsitty Jr., 30, was charged with violating the civil rights of the victim when he groped, touched and kissed her against her will, while she was restrained in handcuffs. Count two of the indictment charges Etsitty, with making false statements to the FBI. An indictment is merely an accusation, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty.
Nampa, Idaho, Man Pleads Guilty to Embezzling Tribal Funds (U.S. Attorney for the District of Idaho - www.justice.gov/usao/id/)
U.S. Attorney Wendy J. Olson announced that Kyle Prior, 38, of Nampa, Idaho, pleaded guilty in federal court on Jan. 3, 2012 to theft of federal funds, announced. Sentencing is set for March 20, 2012 at the federal courthouse in Pocatello. During his guilty plea, Prior admitted that between Sept. 16, 2008, and July 28, 2009, while acting in his capacity as Executive Director of the Upper Snake River Tribes Foundation (USRT), he used a bank debit card issued to the foundation to make purchases for his personal use. According to court documents, after Prior was terminated from employment, an audit and subsequent investigation found Prior made numerous inappropriate transactions. The USRT was created to protect tribal heritage related to fish wildlife and other natural resources. It is a non-profit organization led by a commission consisting of a tribal member from each of the Shoshone-Paiute, Shoshone-Bannock, Paiute-Shoshone and the Burns-Paiute of Oregon tribes. The charge of theft of federal funds is punishable by up to 10 years in prison, a maximum fine of $250,000 and up to three years of supervised release.
DRUG AND FIREARMS ENFORCEMENT
Hardin, Mont., Man Sentenced to Four Years for Conspiracy to Distribute Methamphetamine (U.S. Attorney for the District of Montana)
U.S. Attorney Michael W. Cotter announced that during a federal court session in Billings, Mont., on Jan. 5, 2012, Cody Michael Beard, a 21-year-old resident of Hardin, Mont., was sentenced to four years in prison to be followed by five years of supervised release in connection with his guilty plea to conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. Beard became known to FBI/BIA investigators during a joint investigation into the distribution of illegal drugs on the Crow Indian Reservation (CIR). Throughout the last year, agents have interviewed approximately 40 people and all have information about Beard and his use and distribution of methamphetamine. Beard also admitted to selling significant quantities of methamphetamine on the Crow Indian Reservation between 2009 and 2011.
Fort Totten, N.D., Man Sentenced on Federal Firearm Charge (U.S. Attorney for the District of North Dakota - www.usdoj.gov/usao/nd/)
U.S. Attorney Timothy Q. Purdon announced that on Jan. 4, 2012, Shobie H. Shaw, of Fort Totten, N.D., was sentenced in federal court on a charge of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Shaw, 33, pleaded guilty on Oct. 3, 2011, to possessing a high standard derringer, .22 magnum caliber rifle from August 2010 through May of 2011. Federal firearms
statutes prohibit possession of firearms by a convicted felon. According to the indictment, Shaw was previously convicted of destruction of property, a Class C felony in federal court in North Dakota, on March 4, 1999. The incident occurred on the Spirit Lake Indian Reservation. Shaw was sentenced to 23 months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release.
Browning, Mont., Man Sentenced For Meth Trafficking (U.S. Attorney for the District of Montana - www.justice.gov/usao/mt/)
U.S. Attorney Michael W. Cotter announced that during a federal court session in Great Falls, Mont., on Dec. 29, 2011, Michael Ray Gobert, 35, of Browning, was sentenced to 12 months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release. Gobert was sentenced in connection with his guilty plea to distribution of methamphetamine. Officers of the Blackfeet Safe Trails Task Force (BSTTF) conducted an extensive investigation of numerous individuals trafficking large amounts of methamphetamine on the Blackfeet Reservation during 2009 and 2010. Gobert was identified as an involved conspirator. After Gobert’s arrest, he voluntarily admitted to BSTTF Officers that he sold one-half gram amounts of methamphetamine on at least ten separate occasions in March and April of 2010.
VIOLENT CRIME PROSECUTION
Navajo Man from Colorado Pleads Guilty To Federal Assault Charge (U.S. Attorney for the District of New Mexico - www.justice.gov/usao/nm/)
U.S. Attorney Kenneth J. Gonzales announced that on Jan. 6, 2012 in federal court in Albuquerque, Steven Haley, 22, an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation who resides in Dolores, Co., pleaded guilty to an assault resulting in serious bodily injury. Haley entered his guilty plea under an agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s Office that requires the imposition of a seven-year term of imprisonment to be followed by not more than three years of supervised release. Haley pleaded guilty to shooting another Navajo man with a rifle at a residence near Red Rock, N.M., on the Navajo Indian Reservation, on March 5, 2011.
Zuni Pueblo Man Sentenced To 37 Months for Federal Child Sexual Abuse Conviction (U.S. Attorney for the District of New Mexico)
U.S. Attorney Kenneth J. Gonzales announced that on Jan. 5, 2012, in federal court in Santa Fe, N.M., Linden Troy Qualo, 28, was sentenced to 37 months in prison to be followed by five years of supervised release for sexually abusing a minor. Qualo, a member and resident of the Pueblo of Zuni, also will be required to register as a sex offender after completing his prison sentence. Qualo pleaded guilty in July 2011 to an indictment charging him with sexually violating a child in January 2010 on the Pueblo of Zuni. In his plea agreement, Qualo admitted that, on Jan. 30, 2010, he engaged in a sexual act with a female child who was 13 years old.
Jemez Pueblo Man Arrested On Federal Sexual Assault Resulting In Death Charge (U.S. Attorney for the District of New Mexico)
U.S. Attorney Kenneth J. Gonzales announced that on Jan. 3, 2012, FBI special agents arrested Gavin Yepa, 26, a member and resident of Jemez Pueblo, on a criminal complaint alleging a sexual assault resulting in death charge. If convicted of this offense, Yepa faces a maximum penalty of life in prison. Yepa made his initial appearance in federal court in Albuquerque, N.M., on Jan 4. Yepa is charged with killing Lynette Becenti, a 38-year-old Navajo woman, during a sexual assault at Yepa’s Jemez Pueblo residence on the night of Dec. 29, 2011.
Fort Thompson, S.D., Man Pleads Guilty to Sexual Abuse (U.S. Attorney for the District of South Dakota)
U.S. Attorney Brendan V. Johnson announced that Craig W. Kirkie, 46, of Fort Thompson, appeared in federal court on Jan. 4, 2012, and pleaded guilty to sexual abuse. The maximum penalty upon conviction is 20 years in prison. The conviction stems from an incident on the day after Thanksgiving of 2005. The victim was 16 and the defendant was 40. A sentencing date was set for March 27, 2012. The defendant was remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshal pending sentencing.
Wood, S.D., Man Pleads Guilty to Assault with a Dangerous Weapon (U.S. Attorney for the District of South Dakota)
U.S. Attorney Brendan V. Johnson announced that Eli Henry Siers, 33, of Wood, S.D., pleaded guilty in federal court on Jan. 4, 2012 to assault with a dangerous weapon. The maximum penalty upon conviction is 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine or both. The charge stems from an incident that took place on Sept. 11, 2011, near Mission, S.D., when Siers confronted a man with whom he was feuding. Siers pursued the man, pointed a pistol at him, informed him that he was going to die, and also hit the man in the head with the pistol. The pistol was not fired. Sentencing was set for March 26, 2012.
Two Lummi Tribal Members Charged In Stabbing Death during Robbery (U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Washington - www.justice.gov/usao/waw/)
U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan announced that two members of the Lummi Tribe have been charged with first degree murder in the stabbing death of another Lummi tribal member during a robbery in a home on Lummi tribal trust land near Bellingham, Wash. Johnathan Casey Phair, 24, was arrested Dec. 20, 2011, in connection with the Dec. 17, 2011, stabbing death of Lamar Felipe James. A second defendant, Dezi-Rey Thomas Louie, 22, is still being sought by law enforcement. First degree murder is punishable by up to life in prison.
Lodge Grass, Mont., Man Pleads Guilty to Assault (U.S. Attorney for the District of Montana)
U.S. Attorney Michael W. Cotter announced that during a federal court session in Billings, Mont., on Jan. 4, 2012, Gary Jackson Hugs, Jr., a 21-year-old resident of Lodge Grass and an enrolled member of the Crow Tribe of Indians, pleaded guilty to assault resulting in serious bodily injury. The charge stems from an automobile accident in which the defendant was intoxicated while driving and his girlfriend, the passenger, was seriously injured. Sentencing has been set for April 4, 2012. Hugs faces possible penalties of 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and 3 years supervised release.
Mission, S.D., Man Pleads Guilty to Two Counts of Involuntary Manslaughter (U.S. Attorney for the District of South Dakota - www.justice.gov/usao/sd/)
U.S. Attorney Brendan V. Johnson announced that Shad Dillon, 38, of Mission, S.D., appeared in federal court on Jan. 4, 2012, and pleaded guilty to two counts of involuntary manslaughter. The maximum penalty upon conviction for each count is eight years in prison, a $250,000 fine or both. The convictions stem from an incident that took place on June 30, 2011, in Mission, when Dillon was driving a motor vehicle in excess of the posted 45 mile per hour speed limit and was under the influence of alcohol. Dillon was observed driving recklessly before he ran into the victims' vehicle and killed two occupants of the victims' car. Dillon was driving the car at a rate of approximately 60 miles per hour at the time of the collision. Dillon, whose blood alcohol was determined to be .217, was also injured as a result of the crash. Sentencing was set for March 26, 2012.
Sisseton, S.D., Man Pleads Guilty to Assault (U.S. Attorney for the District of South Dakota)
U.S. Attorney Brendan V. Johnson announced that Jesse Burton Hopkins, 24, of Sisseton, S.D., pleaded guilty in federal court to assault resulting in serious bodily injury. The maximum penalty upon conviction is 10 years in prison. The conviction stems from an incident in June 2010 when Hopkins punched the victim, striking him in the face with a closed fist, knocking him to the ground. The victim was taken by ambulance to Chamberlain where it was determined he had a fractured jaw. The victim underwent surgery that included the extraction of a tooth. His jaw had to be wired shut for several weeks. Sentencing date was set for March 12, 2011.
Ft. Thompson, S.D., Man Sentenced on Assault Charge (U.S. Attorney for the District of South Dakota)
U.S. Attorney Brendan V. Johnson announced that a Ft. Thompson man charged with assaulting a federal officer was sentenced on Dec. 19, 2011. Tory Ray Kirkie, 22, was sentenced to 14 months in custody and two years of supervised release. The conviction stems from an incident on July 4, 2011, when Kirkie struck a BIA officer who was attempting to arrest the defendant on a federal warrant for a supervised release violation.
Whiteriver, Ariz., Man Found Guilty of Sexual Abuse of a Minor (U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona) www.justice.gov/usao/az/
Acting U.S. Attorney Ann Birmingham Scheel announced that on Dec. 23, 2011, Darren Quesada, 44, of Whiteriver, Ariz., was found guilty of aggravated sexual abuse of a minor and abusive sexual contact with a minor, by a federal jury in Prescott. The case was tried before U.S. District Judge James A. Teilborg and the defendant is being held until sentencing before Judge Teilborg on April 2, 2012. The jury found the defendant guilty of sexually abusing two minor children in 2009 and 2010. The jury also made special findings that the defendant was previously convicted of a federal sex offense involving a minor in 1997. A conviction for aggravated sexual abuse of a minor with a prior conviction for a federal sex offense involving a minor carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison.
Informational: Federal Court Arraignments (U.S. Attorney for the District of Montana)
The U.S. Attorney’s Office announced that during a federal court session in Great Falls, Mont., on Jan. 3, 2012, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Keith Strong, the following individuals were arraigned:
Eugene Thomas Whitequills, Jr., 23, of Browning, Mont., appeared on a charge of aggravated sexual abuse. He is currently detained. If convicted of this charge, Whitequills faces possible life in prison, a $250,000 fine and lifetime supervision.
Thomas Ray Crossguns, 27, of Browning, appeared on a charge of assault resulting in serious bodily injury. He is currently detained. If convicted of this charge, Crossguns faces possible penalties of 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years supervised release.