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TRIBAL JUSTICE NEWS
March 9, 2012

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TRIBAL LAW AND ORDER

Justice Department officials presented remarks before the Indian Law and Order Commission (ILOC), at a public hearing held this week in Arlington, Virginia. The ILOC is an independent commission created by the Tribal Law and Order Act to study challenges and produce recommendations to strengthen public safety and equal justice in Indian Country. Read prepared remarks by Brendan V. Johnson, U.S. Attorney for the District of the South Dakota and Native American Issues Subcommittee Chairman; Tracy Toulou, Director of the Office of Tribal Justice; and Mary Lou Leary, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Justice Programs by visiting http://www.justice.gov/tribal.

INDIAN COUNTRY PROSECUTIONS

BOOTLEGGING

Five Indicted for Selling Liquor on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation (U.S. Attorney for the District of South Dakota)

U.S. Attorney Brendan V. Johnson announced that several individuals from the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation have been indicted by a federal grand jury for possessing and selling intoxicating liquor to other people on the reservation in 2011. The indictments were a result of a joint Oglala Sioux Tribe Department of Public Safety and Bureau of Indian Affairs, Office of Justice Services operation targeting “bootlegging” on the reservation. The four people charged in the case are Marnie Water, aka Marnie Waters, aka “Marnie Water Eagle Bull,” Darrell Spotted Elk, Sr., Florine Chipps, aka “Florine Conquering Bear,” Merle Leighton, Sr. and Julia Marie Lamont, aka “Marie Lamont.” Each appeared before a U.S. Magistrate on Feb. 24, 2012, and each pleaded not guilty to the indictments. The maximum penalty upon conviction is one year imprisonment and/or a $100,000 fine for each charge. The charges are merely accusations, and each defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

FIREARMS

Minnesota Man Sentenced to 92 Months for Unlawful Possession of Firearm (U.S. Attorney for the District of New Mexico)

Joseph Martell, 27, of Bemidji, Minn., was sentenced, on March 5, 2012, to 92 months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release for being a felon in possession of a firearm. Martell was charged in an indictment filed on Dec. 15, 2010, alleging that he unlawfully possessed a firearm on June 12, 2009. He was prohibited from possessing firearms and ammunition because he previously had been convicted of possession of stolen firearms.

ENVIRONMENTAL CRIMES

Billings Man Pleads Guilty to Trafficking in Migratory Birds (U.S. Attorney for the District of Montana)

U.S. Attorney Michael W. Cotter announced that during a federal court session in Billings on March 8, 2012, Marc J. Little Light, a 41-year-old resident of Crow Agency, pleaded guilty and was sentenced on the charge of trafficking in migratory birds. Little Light was sentenced to a term of one year probation and fined $2,000. According to court documents, on Nov. 2, 2010, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks got a call on their TIP (Turn In Poachers) hotline that a group of people were killing and selling eagles around Hardin. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service criminal investigators learned through a confidential¬† informant that eagle feathers and parts could be purchased at the Hugs ranch, about five miles south of Hardin. On Dec. 5, 2010, the informant went to the ranch and met several individuals, including Little Light. The informant bought eagle feathers and parts from the other individuals at the Hugs Ranch. They began to discuss other eagle parts, and eagle bones were mentioned. Little Light said he had “a bunch of those.” As the informant was getting ready to leave, Little Light said he would later bring his eagle bones to the informant’s hotel. Later that night, Little Light offered to sell and sold to the informant for $50, a white plastic bag filled with 20 eagle bones. The investigation was conducted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

VIOLENT CRIME

Blackfeet Man Sentenced for Assault (U.S. Attorney for the District of Montana)

U.S. Attorney Michael W. Cotter announced that during a federal court session in Great Falls, Mont., on March 7, 2012, David Lee Spotted Eagle, 23, was sentenced to 57 months in prison in connection with his guilty plea to assault resulting in serious bodily injury. In an offer of proof, the government stated it would have proved at trial the following: On Jan. 3, 2011, the victim, while visiting his cousin’s home in Browning, fell asleep on her couch. The victim awoke to Spotted Eagle hitting him in the head and face with a small bat, resulting in serious bodily injury. The crime occurred within the exterior boundaries of the Blackfeet Indian Reservation.

Mission, S.D., Man Pleads Not Guilty to First Degree Murder (U.S. Attorney for the District of South Dakota)

U.S. Attorney Brendan V. Johnson announced that Lawrence Anthony Whipple, 54, of Mission, S.D., pleaded not guilty to first degree murder on March 7, 2012. The maximum penalty upon conviction is mandatory life in prison and a $250,000 fine. The charge is merely an accusation and Whipple is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty. The investigation is being conducted by the FBI and Rosebud Sioux Tribe Law Enforcement Services.

Eagle Butte Woman Sentenced for Assaulting Woman with Vehicle (U.S. Attorney for the District of South Dakota)

U.S. Attorney Brendan V. Johnson announced that Robin Chasing Hawk, an Eagle Butte woman convicted of assault with a dangerous weapon, was sentenced on March 6, 2012 to 15 months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release. Chasing Hawk pleaded guilty to the charge on Dec. 13, 2011. The conviction was a result of an incident that occurred on Aug. 26, 2011, when Chasing Hawk intentionally struck the victim with her car after getting into an argument with her outside of No Heart Housing in Eagle Butte.

St. Xavier, Mont., Man Pleads Guilty to Assault (U.S. Attorney for the District of Montana)

The U.S. Attorney’s Office announced that Cody L. Big Hair, 20, of St. Xavier, Mont., and enrolled member of the Crow Tribe of Indians, pleaded guilty to assault resulting in serious bodily injury on March 6, 2012. The conviction stems from an incident that took place on Feb. 5, 2011, when Big Hair drove off the road while intoxicated and hit a tree head-on, resulting in serious injury the passenger of his car. Big Hair faces possible penalties of 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years supervised release.

White River, S.D., Man Sentenced for Sexual Contact with a Minor (U.S. Attorney for the District of South Dakota)

U.S. Attorney Brendan V. Johnson announced that Lloyd Cleveland Larvie, 54, of White River, S.D., was sentenced on March 5, 2012 to 33 months in prison, five years of supervised release and a $100 special assessment for two counts of sexual contact with a minor. The defendant was also ordered to register as a sex offender. Larvie pleaded guilty to the charge on Dec. 13, 2011. The conviction stems from two separate incidents in 2009 and 2010.

Federal Jury Convicts Navajo Man of Voluntary Manslaughter in Connection with Death of 10-Month Infant (U.S. Attorney for the District of New Mexico)

U.S. Attorney Kenneth J. Gonzales announced that on March 5, 2012, Kalvest Ganadonegro, 30, a member of the Navajo Nation from Alamo, N.M., was found guilty of voluntary manslaughter. The conviction arose out of the death of a 10-month infant who had been left in Ganadonegro’s care on Nov. 21, 2008. Ganadonegro faces a minimum penalty of 10 years in prison and a maximum of life in prison.

Shiprock Man Sentenced to 18 Months for Involuntary Manslaughter Conviction (U.S. Attorney for the District of New Mexico)

On March 6, 2012, Herbert Harwood, 50, a member of the Navajo Nation who resides in Shiprock, N.M., was sentenced to 18 months in prison, three years of supervised release and $6,340 in restitution for involuntary manslaughter. Harwood admitted to killing Richard King, a 36 year-old Navajo man, on March 27 2011, while driving under the influence of alcohol on the Navajo Indian Reservation in San Juan County.

Navajo Man Sentenced for 2005 Sexual Assault after “Cold Hit” DNA Match (U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona)

On March 5, 2012, Eugene Clark, 26, of Chinle, Ariz., was sentenced to 262 months in prison. Clark previously pleaded guilty to aggravated sexual abuse. According to the plea agreement, in January 2005, Clark broke into the home of a lay pastor in Chinle and assaulted her. In September 2010, the Arizona Department of Public Safety of Northern Arizona Crime Laboratory ran its cold cases, which included Clark’s case, through the Combined DNA Index System. The DNA sample take from the sexual assault examination matched Clark, who had previously been convicted of felon in possession of a firearm.

Mission, 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 Mission, S.D., man charged with assault resulting in serious bodily injury was sentenced on March 5, 2012. Juan Colmbe, 19, was sentenced to 30 months in custody, 24 months of supervised release and a $100 special assessment. Colombe pleaded guilty to the charge on Dec. 12, 2011. The conviction stems from a June 29, 2011, incident where Columbe entered a residence and struck the victim with an axe handle.

Red Lake Man Sentenced for Assaulting a Woman (U.S. Attorney for the District of Minnesota)

David James Cook, 33, of Red Lake, Minn., was sentenced on March 6, 2012, for assaulting a female resident of the Red Lake Indian Reservation. Cook was sentenced to up to 120 months in prison on one count of assault resulting in serious bodily injury. He pleaded guilty on Nov. 14, 2011. The sentence will run concurrent to an unrelated federal 165 month sentence for conspiring to possess with intent to distribute oxycodone.

For more information on Justice Department initiatives and programs in Indian Country visit the Tribal Justice and Safety Website.

 


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