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TRIBAL JUSTICE NEWS
March 15, 2013
Contact Wyn Hornbuckle, Office of Public Affairs (202- 514-2007)
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Public Safety Initiatives and Special Announcements

United States to Accept Concurrent Jurisdiction Over White Earth Reservation In Minnesota

The Department of Justice has granted a request by the White Earth Nation for the United States to assume concurrent criminal jurisdiction on the 1,300 square mile White Earth reservation in northern Minnesota, Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole announced on March 15, 2013.

The decision was the first action of its kind under the landmark Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010 (TLOA), which granted the Justice Department discretion to accept concurrent federal jurisdiction to prosecute major crimes within areas of Indian country that are also subject to state criminal jurisdiction under Public Law 280.  Public Law 280 is the 1953 law that mandated the transfer of federal law enforcement jurisdiction for certain tribes to six states, including Minnesota.  The decision, relayed on March 14 in a letter to the tribe signed by Deputy Attorney General Cole, will take effect on June 1, 2013.  Tribal, state and county prosecutors and law enforcement agencies will also continue to have criminal jurisdiction on the reservation. 

“Our goal in granting this request is to strengthen public safety and security for the people of White Earth,” said Deputy Attorney General Cole.  “We look forward to partnering with the tribe and our state and local counterparts to support White Earth in ensuring justice on the reservation.” 

“The public safety challenges facing our tribal communities are serious and complex,” said U.S. Attorney for the District of Minnesota B. Todd Jones. “The United States Attorney’s Office will continue working closely and collaboratively with our tribal and local partners towards our common goal – improving public safety.  It is our hope that with the additional jurisdiction, our Office will be able to support our tribal and county partners for the benefit of all communities.”

Full release: www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2013/March/13-opa-315.html

Remarks by Acting Associate Attorney General Tony West at the Federal Advisory Task Force on Research on Violence Against American Indian and Alaska Native Women Living In Tribal Communities

“We have had a lot to celebrate the last couple days and yesterday I was proud to witness President Obama sign the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act into law.  The reauthorization not only includes the provisions that Vice President Biden fought so hard for 20 years ago to protect all women, but it also includes the critical tribal jurisdiction provisions to help Indian tribes combat violence against Native women.  From the time non-Indians first came to this continent and right up through the founding of our Nation, Indian tribes routinely exercised authority over all individuals who committed acts of violence on Indian lands.  In 1978, in the Oliphant v. Suquamish Indian Tribe case, the U.S. Supreme Court took that power away, holding that tribes lacked criminal jurisdiction over non-Indians, absent express authorization from Congress.  Last week, thanks largely to your efforts, we got that authorization and now perpetrators of domestic and dating violence will be held accountable, whether they’re Indian or non-Indian.  And countless Indian women will enjoy safer lives as a result.”

Read Full Prepared Remarks: http://www.justice.gov/iso/opa/asg/speeches/2013/asg-speech-130308.html

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In Focus: Historic Agreement Places New Prosecutor on Standing Rock Reservation to Prosecute Violence Against Women Cases

Courtesy of U.S. Attorney for the District of South Dakota Brendan V. Johnson

On March, 12, 2013, U.S. Attorney Brendan V. Johnson announced the appointment of Erin Shanley as Special Assistant United States Attorney (SAUSA) for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. She was sworn in March 4, 2013 at the District Court Chambers in Pierre, South Dakota by U.S. District Judge Roberto A. Lange.

Shanley started her duties on Jan. 14, 2013 and is headquartered at Standing Rock Tribal Court, Office of the Prosecutor, in Fort Yates, N.D.  The addition of a special tribal prosecutor is a result of a historic agreement between the SRST and the U.S. Department of Justice. The agreement authorized the hiring of a Tribal SAUSA to prosecute violence against women cases in federal and tribal courts. The funding for this new position is provided by a grant from the Justice Department’s Office on Violence against Women.  

Shanley will handle the prosecution of cases involving domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking that are committed within the boundaries of the SRST. She will have authority to pursue those cases in federal court in both South Dakota and North Dakota, as well as in Standing Rock Tribal Court. She will work in close collaboration with Assistant U.S. Attorneys in both states on these cases.

Shanley is an enrolled member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe. Prior to this appointment, she was Assistant Prosecutor for the Pascua Yaqui Tribe in Arizona.

Read the press release: www.justice.gov/usao/sd/pressreleases/SF-2013-03-12-Shanley.html

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Significant Criminal Prosecutions

ARIZONA

Navajo Man Sentenced to 166 Months Imprisonment for Assault With A Firearm (U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Arizona)

On March 4, 2013, U.S. Attorney John S. Leonardo announced that Harry McCabe, Sr., 52, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge James A. Teilborg to a cumulative sentence of 166 months in prison. McCabe was found guilty by a federal jury in November 2012, of one count of assault with a dangerous weapon, one count of assault resulting in serious bodily injury and two counts of discharging a firearm during a crime of violence. The evidence at trial showed that the defendant assaulted the victim by firing a .22 caliber rifle at him, causing a bullet wound to the head. 

www.justice.gov/usao/az/press_releases/2013/PR_03052013_McCabe.html

MICHIGAN

Mt Pleasant Man Indicted for Assault with A Dangerous Weapon, Domestic Assault By A Habitual Offender and Witness Tampering On An Indian Reservation (U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of Michigan)

On March 14, 2013, U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade announced that Bret Jon Shomin, a 41-year-old Mount Pleasant man, was indicted by a federal grand jury in Bay City, Michigan. Shomin appeared for arraignment on charges of assault with a dangerous weapon with the intent to do bodily harm, domestic assault by a habitual offender and witness tampering. The indictment charges that Shomin struck the victim with an end table and cut her face with a broken piece of mirror after having been previously convicted of two or more assaults against a spouse or intimate partner. It is also alleged that Shomin attempted to persuade the victim to lie during her grand jury testimony.  If convicted, Shomin faces up to 35 years in prison. An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt.

MINNESOTA

Federal Jury Convicts Men for 2011 New Year Day Robbery and Killing on Red Lake Indian Reservation (U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Minnesota)

On March 12, 2013, U.S. Attorney B. Todd Jones announced that a jury found two men guilty for murdering a couple on the Red Lake Indian Reservation on New Year’s Day 2011. Following a two-week trial, the jury convicted Geshik-O-Binese Martin, age 30; Edward McCabe Robinson, age 28; both of Red Lake on two counts of murder in the first degree, two counts of murder in the second degree and one count of robbery. The jury also found David John Martin, age 46, of Columbia Heights, guilty on one count of robbery. A fourth defendant, George Allen Martin, age 24, also of Red Lake, was acquitted on all counts.

The trial evidence proved that on Jan. 1, 2011, Craig David Roy and Darla Ann Beaulieu were killed while money and illegal drugs were stolen from Roy’s reservation residence. The bodies of Beaulieu and Roy were found in the remains of the house, which was destroyed by fire on that same day. Autopsies determined that both victims were killed as a result of multiple stab wounds and not the fire itself.

On Feb. 26, 2013, Kevin John Needham, age 21, also of Red Lake, pleaded guilty to one count of robbery. In his plea agreement, Needham admitted that he agreed to travel with Robinson, Stately and the Martins to Roy’s residence, the intention being to take money and cocaine by force and that he stood in the driveway of the Roy residence during the robbery.

On November 15, 2012, Terin Rene Stately, age 25, also of Red Lake, pleaded guilty to one count of aiding and abetting robbery. In her plea agreement, Stately admitted driving the group to and from the Roy residence and waiting in the vehicle during the robbery.

For their crimes, Robinson and Geshik-O-Binese Martin face potential maximum penalties of life in federal prison. They and David Martin face a potential maximum penalty of 15 years in federal prison for robbery.

http://www.justice.gov/usao/mn/GMartinconvicted.html

MISSISSIPPI

Mississippi Man Pleads Guilty to Burglary (U.S. Attorney’s Office, Southern District of Mississippi)

On March 7, 2013, U.S. Attorney Gregory K. Davis announced that Chester Clayton, 22, of Carthage, Mississippi, was sentenced to 36 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release for house burglary.  Clayton was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $1,740 to the victim and to attend drug counseling and treatment.  The offense occurred within the boundaries of the Tribal Lands of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians. 

MONTANA

Sherron Grace American Horse Pleads Guilty in U.S. Federal Court (U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Montana)

On March 6, 2013, U.S. Attorney Michael W. Cotter announced that Sherron Grace American Horse, a 38-year-old resident of Ashland and an enrolled member of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe, pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and assault resulting in serious bodily injury. In an Offer of Proof, the government stated it would have proved at trial the following: On June 22, 2012, law enforcement responded to a car crash on the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation.  All at the scene identified American Horse as the driver.   One passenger died and another suffered a spinal injury that resulted in partial paralysis. American Horse faces possible penalties of 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and 3 years supervised release on the involuntary manslaughter charge and eight years in prison, a $250,000 fine and 3 years supervised release on the assault resulting in serious bodily injury charge.

Erin Ruth Smith Pleads Guilty in U.S. Federal Court (U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Montana)

On March 5, 2013, U.S. Attorney Michael W. Cotter announced that Erin Ruth Smith, a 21-year-old resident of Wyola and an enrolled member of the Crow Tribe of Indians, pleaded guilty to assault resulting in serious bodily injury.  In an Offer of Proof, the government stated it would have proved the following: On August 31, 2012, Smith was driving alone on the Crow Indian Reservation. However, Smith was going the wrong way (eastward in the west-bound lanes). Smith crashed head-on into another vehicle. Three passengers were hurt in the crash, with their injuries constituting serious bodily injuries.   Smith, at the scene of the crash, admitted to drinking alcohol before the crash. She faces possible penalties of 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and 3 years supervised release.

NEBRASKA

Winnebago Man Sentenced for Felony DUI Conviction (U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Nebraska)

On March 7, 2013, U.S. Attorney Deborah R. Gilg announced that Joseph C. Snowball, 24, was sentenced by Chief United States District Court Judge Laurie Smith Camp for his felony conviction of driving under the influence while having a minor child present in the vehicle.  Snowball was sentenced to five years’ probation and was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $188,621.25 for injuries suffered by the passengers in the vehicle he was driving.  Snowball will also be required to perform 100 hours of community service. In addition, he will not be allowed to drive unless he has an ignition interlock device installed on his vehicle. On May 11, 2012, Snowball was in a vehicle on the Winnebago Indian Reservation along with four other persons, including a five year old child. Snowball drove even though he did not have a driver’s license and was intoxicated. He lost control of the vehicle causing it to leave the roadway and crash into a tree. Snowball’s blood alcohol level was determined to be .234.

NEW MEXICO

Two Grey Hills, N.M., Man Pleads Guilty To Federal Child Sexual Abuse Charges (U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of New Mexico)

On March 4, 2013, U.S. Attorney Kenneth J. Gonzales announced that Erick McDonald, 21, an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation, entered a guilty plea to abusive sexual contact charges. McDonald pleaded guilty to two-count information charging him with abusive sexual contact with a six-year-old Indian child and a 12-year-old Indian child on Sept. 19, 2012. Court records reflect that McDonald’s unlawful conduct occurred in a residence on the Navajo Indian Reservation.

At sentencing, McDonald faces a maximum penalty of three years of imprisonment for abusing the 12-year-old victim and six years of imprisonment for abusing the six-year-old victim. He also will be required to register as a sex offender.

http://www.justice.gov/usao/nm/pr/2013/2013-03-04_mcdonald_pr.pdf

Shiprock, N.M., Man Pleads Guilty To Second Degree Murder And Attempted Robbery Charges (U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of New Mexico)

On March 11, 2013, U.S. Attorney Kenneth J. Gonzales announced that Malcolm Altisi, 31, a member of the Navajo Nation, pleaded guilty to second degree murder and attempted robbery charges under a plea agreement. Under the terms of the plea agreement, Altisi will be sentenced to 19 years in prison followed by not more than five years of supervised release.  Altisi and his co-defendant, Emery Whitehair, 21, a Navajo man from Shiprock, were charged in an eight-count superseding indictment based on events occurring on Oct. 17, 2011, on the Navajo Indian Reservation. According to court records, on that day, Altisi killed Rolan Joe, a 25-year-old Navajo man, after Altisi and Whitehair attempted to rob another Navajo man. Whitehair is charged with assaulting the robbery victim with a dangerous weapon and causing the victim serious bodily injury. Whitehair also is charged with using a firearm in relation to a crime of violence.

Whitehair has entered a not guilty plea to the offenses with which he is charged.  The charges against Whitehair are only accusations and he is presumed innocent unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.  His trial is scheduled for April 15, 2013. 

NORTH DAKOTA

New Town Man Sentenced for Assault (U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of North Dakota)

U.S. Attorney Timothy Q. Purdon announced that on March 1, 2013, Sean Conklin, 35, of New Town, N.D., was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Daniel L. Hovland on a charge of assault resulting in serious bodily injury. Conklin was found guilty of the charge by a federal jury on April 18, 2012.  Judge Hovland sentenced Conklin to three years and nine months in federal prison, to be followed by two years of supervised release. He was also ordered to pay a $100 special assessment to the Crime Victim’s Fund.

In April 2010, an employee of a Bismarck excavating company was in the entertainment bar at the Four Bears Casino and Lodge. Conklin struck this employee in the face as he was leaving the bar.

http://www.justice.gov/usao/nd/news/2013/03-01-13-Sean%20Conklin%20Sentenced.html

St. Michael Man Pleads Guilty to Involuntary Manslaughter (U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of North Dakota)

U.S. Attorney Timothy Q. Purdon announced that on March 6, 2013, Jamie Lee Belgarde of St. Michael, N.D., pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Ralph R. Erickson to a charge of involuntary manslaughter.  On June 23, 2012, Belgarde, 38, while intoxicated and driving at a high rate of speed, failed to negotiate a curve in the road, causing the vehicle to leave the road. The vehicle vaulted, rolled and eventually came to rest upside down in a field. Belgarde’s brother, Donald Belgarde, Jr., who was a passenger in the vehicle, was pronounced dead at the scene. The incident happened on the Spirit Lake Indian Reservation.

http://www.justice.gov/usao/nd/news/2013/03-06-13-Belgarde%20Pleads.html

SOUTH DAKOTA

Pine Ridge Man Pleads Guilty to Assault (U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of South Dakota)

On March 11, 2013, U.S. Attorney Brendan V. Johnson announced that Kevin Ray Apple, age 38, of Pine Ridge, South Dakota appeared before U.S. Chief District Judge Jeffrey L. Viken and pleaded guilty to Assaulting a Federal Officer. The maximum penalty upon conviction is 20 years of imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.  The charge relates to Apple assaulting an Oglala Sioux Tribal Officer with a vehicle during a traffic stop at Pine Ridge on May 21, 2012. 

http://www.justice.gov/usao/sd/pressreleases/RC-2013-03-12-Apple.html

Lower Brule Man Sentenced for Sexual Abuse (U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of South Dakota)

On March 7, 2013, U.S. Attorney Brendan V. Johnson announced that a Lower Brule, South Dakota man convicted of Sexual Abuse was sentenced on March 6, 2013 by U.S. District Judge Roberto A. Lange. Martin Charger, age 37, was sentenced to 151 months in prison, 5 years of supervised release and $100 to the Victim Assistance Fund.  Charger was indicted for Aggravated Sexual Abuse of a Child by a federal grand jury in July 2012.  The charge stems from an incident occurring during the calendar year 2007, when Charger intimidated a child victim under the age of 12 to engage in sexual acts.  Charger pleaded guilty in December 2012.

http://www.justice.gov/usao/sd/pressreleases/Pierre-2013-03-07-Charger.html

Lower Brule Man Sentenced for Sexual Abuse of a Minor (U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of South Dakota)

On March 1, 2013, United States Attorney Brendan V. Johnson announced that a Lower Brule, South Dakota man convicted of Sexual Abuse of a Minor was sentenced on Feb. 25, 2013 by U.S.  District Judge Roberto A. Lange.  Ty Middletent, age 22, was sentenced to 18 months in custody followed by 5 years of supervised release. Middletent was also ordered to pay $100 to the Victim Assistance Fund. Middletent was indicted for Sexual Abuse and Sexual Abuse of a Minor by a federal grand jury in Aug. 2012 and pleaded guilty on November 14, 2012.  The victim was 13 years old at the time. 

http://www.justice.gov/usao/sd/pressreleases/Pierre-2013-03-04-Middletent.html

UTAH

Jury Finds Zander Guilty Of Fraud, Money Laundering, Tax Charges In Case Involving Scheme To Defraud Paiute Tribe (U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Utah)

On March 6, 2013 U.S. Attorney David B. Barlow announced that a jury convicted Jeffrey Charles Zander, 57, a former tribal planner, general counsel and economic development and trust resources director for the Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah, of mail and wire fraud, money laundering and willful failure to file tax returns following a week-long trial in U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City.  Zander was charged with two counts of mail fraud, two counts of wire fraud, one count of money laundering and three counts of willful failure to file a tax return in a superseding indictment returned in Feb. 2012.

Evidence presented at trial showed that beginning in 2005, Zander developed a scheme to divert more than $175,000 for his personal use that had been awarded to the Paiute Tribe through grant proposals the defendant had authored and assisted the tribe in applying for. Zander told tribal leaders that he had hired companies in Salt Lake City, Las Vegas and Provo to act as consultants or facilitators.  Evidence at trial showed the companies were bogus – created by the defendant to facilitate the fraud. Zander created fictitious invoices from the companies, submit them for payment from the Tribe and then drove to different points to deposit the checks into his personal bank accounts. He also drafted quarterly reports for the Bureau of Indian Affairs to show that the money was being spent for facilitators and consultants when, in truth, he had converted grant funds for his own use.

The potential maximum penalty each count of mail and wire fraud is 20 years.  The money laundering count has a potential 10 years penalty and each count of failure to file a tax return has a potential one-year penalty.

http://www.justice.gov/usao/ut/press/releases/2013/March/ZanderPaiuteTribe03062013.htm

WYOMING

Two Wyoming Men Sentenced for Violent Assaults (U.S. Attorney, District of Wyoming)

U.S. Attorney for the District of Wyoming Christopher A. Crofts announced that on March 4, 2013, Casey James Nowlin, a 28 year old Eastern Shoshone tribal descendant, was sentenced for five violent assault charges, one involving assault resulting in serious bodily injury and four counts involving assaults with a dangerous weapon with intent to do bodily harm. The charges stem from Nowlin coming up behind young people at a party on the Wind River Indian Reservation and hitting them in the head and other areas with a log in April 2012. In one instance, the victim suffered permanent and life threatening injury. Nowlin was sentenced to 137 months imprisonment, three years of supervised release and a $500.00 special assessment.

Nowlin’s 19 year old codefendant, Lorenzo Roman, an enrolled Northern Arapaho Tribal member, was sentenced on March 4, 2013 in connection with his role in one count of assault with a dangerous weapon with intent to do bodily harm in connection with his role in kicking a victim who had already been hit in the head by Nowlin. Roman was sentenced to 30 months imprisonment, two years of supervised release and a $100.00 special assessment.  Both defendants were also ordered to pay restitution.

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