TRIBAL JUSTICE NEWS
June 28, 2013
Contact Wyn Hornbuckle, Office of Public Affairs (202-514-2007)
Public Safety Initiatives and Special Announcements
Department of Justice Releases Report to Congress on Indian Country Investigations and Prosecutions (Washington, D.C.)
On May 30, 2013, the Department of Justice released the Indian Country Investigations and Prosecutions report to Congress. The report includes a range of enforcement of statistics required under the Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010 and is based on data from the case management system used by U.S. Attorney’s Offices (USAO) with Indian Country jurisdiction. The report highlights a variety of findings including a 54 percent increase in Indian Country criminal prosecutions since Fiscal Year 2009.
“Across the country, U.S. Attorneys have been focused on fighting crime in Indian Country and reinforcing the bond between federal and tribal law enforcement, which also strengthens the faith that people have in their criminal justice system,” Attorney General Eric Holder said. “This report on federal law enforcement efforts in Indian Country is beginning to show the fruits of this labor with an increase in Indian Country cases prosecuted in federal courts over the past three years, but we have more work to do. The department will continue in its commitment to working with our tribal partners to build safe, sustainable, and healthy communities in American Indian and Alaska Native communities.”
Justice Department Announces Open Solicitation for National And Regional Tribal Organizations - Attorney General's American Indian/Alaska Native Task Force On Children Exposed To Violence
This solicitation from the Justice Department's Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) will support an organization that will (1) assist the Attorney General's Task Force on American Indian/Alaska Native Children Exposed to Violence (AI/AN Task Force) to conduct public hearings and listening sessions in American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) communities to help the AI/AN Task Force gain a fuller understanding of the issues surrounding AI/AN children's exposure to violence, (2) provide primary technical writing services for the final report from which the AI/AN Task Force may draw specific policy recommendations, and (3) provide all necessary support for the AI/AN Task Force and the public hearings.
The deadline to apply for funding under this announcement is 11:59 p.m. eastern time on July 29, 2013.
Read the solicitation: http://www.ojjdp.gov/funding/FundingDetail.asp?fi=316
Questions regarding this announcement should be directed to the contact information listed in the solicitation.
Significant Criminal Prosecutions
Navajo Man Sentenced to 110 Months in Prison for Assault and Use of a Firearm During a Crime of Violence (U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Arizona)
On June 3, 2013, U.S. Attorney John S. Leonardo announced Jerome Lee Buckinghorse, of Pinon, Ariz., was sentenced by U.S. District Judge G. Murray Snow to 110 months in prison. Buckinghorse pleaded guilty on March 19, 2013 to one count of assault resulting in serious bodily injury and one count of use of a firearm during a crime of violence. On Aug. 28, 2012, Buckinghorse and the victims got into an altercation on the Navajo Reservation during which Buckinghorse retrieved a rifle and used the butt of the rifle to hit two victims in the face. When the third victim attempted to flee, Buckinghorse shot him in the back with the rifle.
Drug and Violent Crime Sweep Nets Nearly 30 On and Around the Yavapai-Apache Nation (U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Arizona)
On June 3, 2013, U.S. Attorney John S. Leonardo announced that a successful coordinated enforcement action took place in the Yavapai-Apache Nation. The action was led by the FBI’s Northern Arizona Safe Streets Task Force, the Partners Against Narcotics Traffickers, the Yavapai County Drug Task Force and the Yavapai-Apache National Tribal Police Department.
Native Mob Member Sentenced to 43 Years in Prison for Murder (U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Minnesota)
On June 19, 2013, U.S. Attorney B. Todd Jones announced that U.S. District Court Judge John R. Tunheim sentenced Shawn Michael Martinez, a member of the Native Mob street gang, to 516 months in federal prison for shooting and killing fellow gang member JeremeeKraskey. Martinez faces one count of murder resulting from carrying and using a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence. Martinez will serve virtually his entire sentence behind bars as the federal justice system does not utilize parole. The Native Mob is a regional criminal gang that originated in Minneapolis in the early 1990s. Members routinely engage in drug trafficking, assault, robbery, and murder and membership is estimated at 200. Martinez was charged with the crime on July 19, 2012 and pleaded guilty on Dec. 21, 2012.
Red Lake Man Sentenced for Committing Domestic Assault by a HabitualOffender (U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Minnesota)
On June 13, 2013, U.S. District Court Judge Donovan W. Frank sentenced Brian Gordon Graves, a Red Lake man, to 21 months in federal prison on one count of assault with a dangerous weapon and one count of domestic assault by a habitual offender. On Oct. 6, 2012, Graves assaulted the victim with a 12-gauge shotgun on the Red Lake Indian Reservation. Graves was indicted on Nov. 5, 2012 and convicted on Jan. 31, 2013. This is the second time the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Minnesota has prosecuted someone under the federal “domestic assault by a habitual offender” law.
Blackfeet Tribe Member Sentenced in U.S. District Court (U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Montana)
On June 17, 2013, U.S. Attorney Michael W. Cotter announced that Chief U.S. District Judge Dana L. Christensen sentenced Aloysious Wells, of Heart Butte, Mont. and an enrolled member of the Blackfeet Tribe, to a term of 20 months in prison. Wells was sentenced in connection with his guilty plea to abusive sexual contact and his sentencing will also include a $100 special assessment fine and 10 years of supervised release. In 2009, Wells went to a house in Heart Butte and sexually abused a 12 year old victim. Because there is no parole in the federal system, the “truth in sentencing” guidelines mandate Wells will likely serve all of the time imposed by the court.
Box Elder Man Sentenced for Sexual Abuse (U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Montana)
On June 18, 2013, U.S. Attorney Michael W. Cotter announced that Chief U.S. District Judge Dana L. Christensen sentenced Abel “Alex” Alvarez, a resident of Box Elder, Mont., to 40 months in prison. Alvarez was sentenced in connection with his guilty plea to aggravated sexual abuse and will also face 10 years of supervised release. In 2011, Alvarez had unlawful sexual contact with a 9-year-old child, an enrolled tribal member, on the Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation.
Chippewa Cree Indian Tribe Man Pleads Guilty to Sexual Abuse (U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Montana)
On June 18, 2013, U.S. Attorney Michael W. Cotter announced that before U.S. Magistrate Judge Keith Strong, Vern Thomas Gardipee, of Box Elder, Mont. and an enrolled member of the federally recognized Chippewa Cree Indian Tribe, pleaded guilty to the sexual abuse of a young girl in April 2012. Gardipee’s sentencing has been scheduled for Sept. 25, 2013 and he is currently detained. . Gardipee faces possible penalties of 15 years in prison, a $250,000 and lifetime supervision.
Roswell Man Sentenced to 51 Months in Federal Prison (U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of New Mexico)
On June 25, 2013, U.S. Attorney Kenneth J. Gonzales announced that KavierBarela, from Roswell N.M., was sentenced to 51 months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release for being a felon in possession of a firearm. Barela was arrested in May 2012 based on a criminal complaint charging him with being a felon in possession of a firearm and subsequently was indicted on that same charge. Barela entered a conditional guilty plea to the indictment on Nov. 6, 2012 reserving the right to appellate review of the court’s denial of his motion to suppress evidence.
Gallup Man Pleads Guilty to Federal Second Degree Murder Charge (U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of New Mexico)
On June 24, 2013, U.S. Attorney Kenneth J. Gonzales announced that Thomas Benally, an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation from Gallup, N.M., pleaded guilty to a second degree murder charge under a plea agreement. Benally and his co-defendant, Luke Spencer, a Navajo man also from Gallup, N.M., were indicted in March 2012. Benally was charged with second degree murder and Spencer with aiding and abetting second degree murder. Benally, who was aided by Spencer, killed a man while driving under the influence of alcohol on the Navajo Indian Reservation in October 2010. Benally will be sentenced to a prison term within the range of 10 to 12 years followed by a term of supervised release to be determined by the court.
Iyanbito Man Pleads Guilty to Federal Assault Charge (U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of New Mexico)
On June 17, 2013, U.S. Attorney Kenneth J. Gonzales announced that Mika-Jon Lowley, an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation who resides in Iyanbito, N.M., pleaded guilty to a federal assault charge under a plea agreement. Lowley entered a guilty plea charging him with assault with a dangerous weapon, admitting that on the night of March 12, 2012, he walked up to a couple in the parking lot of Fire Rock Casino, pulled out a BB gun and demanded money, shooting the man in the face with the BB gun. Lowley was arrested on Sept. 20. and remains detained pending his sentencing hearing, which has yet to be scheduled.
Akwesasne Man Pleads Guilty to Smuggling and Transporting Illegal Aliens and Failure to Appear in Federal Court (U.S. Attorney’s Office, Northern District of New York)
On June 5, 2013, U.S. Attorney Richard S. Hartunian and Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent-in-Charge James Spero announced that Nathan S. Martin, of Akwesasne, N.Y., pleaded guilty to conspiring to bring and bringing illegal aliens into the United States and transporting them within the United States, and failure to appear at federal court proceedings after his pretrial release. Martin was one of three people indicted in April 2010 for conspiring to smuggle aliens from Canada into the United States for commercial gain between 2009 and 2010. The sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 10, 2013 and Martin will remain in jail until then.
Upstate New York Man Sentenced for Drug Smuggling on Regis Mohawk Reservation (U.S. Attorney’s Office, Northern District of New York)
On June 8, 2013, U.S. Attorney Richard S. Hartunian and Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent-in-Charge James Spero announced U.S. District Judge David N. Hurd sentenced Eric Wilson, of Saint Regis Falls, N.Y., to 12 months and one day in prison for possessing with intent to distribute 50 kilograms or more of marijuana. Wilson’s car was stopped after officers saw it drive into Canada and return at an unguarded and unmarked border crossing on the Saint Regis Mohawk Reservation and over 124 pounds of marijuana was found in the trunk. Wilson pleaded guilty on Jan. 25, 2013 and is released until July 16, 2013 when he must report to prison.
Cannonball Woman Pleads Guilty to Second Degree Murder (U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of North Dakota)
On June 24, 2013, U.S. Attorney Timothy Q. Purdon announced that Alisha Crow Ghost, of Cannonball, N.D., pleaded guilty to a charge of second degree murder. On Nov. 2013, Crow Ghost stabbed a man at a residence in Cannonball, N.D. and the man died as a result of the injuries he sustained. The charge of second degree murder carries a maximum penalty of life in federal prison and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing for Crow Ghost has been scheduled for Sept. 30, 2013 in U.S. District Court in Bismarck, N.D.
St. Michael Woman Charged with Child Abuse in Death of a Toddler at Spirit Lake (U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of North Dakota)
On June 20, 2013, U.S. Attorney Timothy Q. Purdon announced that Hope Louise ThomahawkWhiteshield, from St. Michael, N.D., has been charged by criminal complaint with Child Abuse and Neglect in Indian Country. The alleged incident involving the death of a two year-old child occurred on the Spirit Lake Indian Reservation on or about June 12, 2013. Whiteshield will be temporarily detained until her detention hearing. The charge of child abuse and neglect in Indian Country carries a statutory minimum mandatory sentence of 10 years in prison and a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
Cannonball Man Sentenced for Domestic Assault by a Habitual Offender (U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of North Dakota)
On June 17, 2013, U.S. Attorney Timothy Q. Purdon announced that Ira Plenty Chief, of Cannonball, N.D., was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Daniel L. Hovland on a charge of domestic assault by a habitual offender. On July 14, 2012 Plenty Chief assaulted a woman by striking her in the face, which resulted in injuries to her eye and nose. He pleaded guilty to the charge on March 25, 2013. Judge Hovland sentenced Plenty Chief to two years and six months in federal prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release.
Dancing Bull Fischer Pleads Guilty to Second Degree Murder and Assault with Intent to Commit Murder (U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of South Dakota)
On June 26, 2013, U.S. Attorney Brendan V. Johnson announced that Dancing Bull Fischer, of Wagner, S. D. appeared before U.S. District Judge Karen E. Schrier and pleaded guilty to the charges of Second Degree Murder and Assault with Intent to Commit Murder. The convinction stems from an incident that took place on Nov. 27, 2012 when Dancing Bull Fischer shot Anthony Fischer, Sr. at close range killing him, and also shot and wounded Dominic Fischer while at a house party in the Wagner area. The maximum penalty upon conviction is life in prison, a $250,000 fine, or both; five years of supervised release; and $100 to the Federal Crime Victims Fund.
Rosebud Man Sentenced for Possession with Intent to Distribute a Controlled Substance (U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of South Dakota)
On June 26, 2013, U.S. Attorney Brendan V. Johnson announced that Myron Dubray, of Rosebud, S.D., was sentenced to 60 months in prison for Possession with Intent to Distribute a Controlled Substance by U.S. District Judge Roberto A. Lange. Dubray will serve consecutively with the term form a previous Pennington County felony; a $1,000 fine; four years of supervised release; and a $100 special assessment to the Federal Crime Victims Fund. Dubray was indicted for the above charge by a federal grand jury on Aug. 22, 2012 and pleaded guilty on April 3, 2013.
Martin Man Found Guilty of Distribution of Morphine (U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of South Dakota)
On June 20, 2013, U.S. Attorney Brendan V. Johnson announced that Alex Lee Salway, of Martin, S.D., was found guilty by a federal jury in U.S. District Court on two counts of Distribution of a Controlled Substance. Each charge carries a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison, a $2,000,000 fine, or both. Salway was indicted by a federal grand jury on June 19, 2012 as part of Operation Prairie Pharm, a controlled substance investigation that resulted in 12 individuals being indicted for drug distribution offenses in Bennett County. Salway remains in the custody of the U.S. Marshal and a sentencing date has not been set.
Man Sentenced to 37 Months Imprisonment for Assault on Yakama Reservation (U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of Washington)
On June 19, 2013, U.S. Attorney Michael C. Ormsby announced that Jerrel Lee Charles was sentenced for committing an Assault Resulting in Serious Bodily Injury, a crime to which he pleaded guilty in March. Senior District Court Judge Edward F. Shea sentenced Charles to a 37 month term in prison to be followed by a three year term of court supervision following his release. Judge Shea also ordered that Charles complete a mental health evaluation and follow any treatment recommendations of the evaluation professional. On Oct. 13, 2012, Charles and his girlfriend had an argument at their residence located on the Yakama Reservation, which escalated into a physical confrontation.
Yakima Drug Trafficker Sentenced to Ten Years in Federal Prison (U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of Washington)
On June 19, 2013, U.S. Attorney Michael C. Ormsby announced that Jose Antonio Naranjo-Lozano, of Yakima, Wash., was sentenced after being convicted of Conspiracy to Distribute Methamphetamine. U.S. District Judge Edward F. Shea sentenced Naranjo-Lozano to 10 years in prison., to be followed by a five year term of court supervision following release from federal prison. In July 2012, a complaint was filed alleging that Naranjo-Lozano and a codefendant had attempted to sell five pounds of methamphetamine to undercover DEA agents. Naranjo-Lozano pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute over 500 grams of a substance containing methamphetamine.
Wyoming Man Sentenced for Assaulting Wife of One Day (U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Wyoming)
On June 17, 2013, U.S. Attorney Christopher A. Crofts announced that Keith Allen Smith, a Northern Arapaho Tribal Member, was sentenced for assaulting his wife and causing her serious bodily injury on the day following their wedding. Smith was sentenced by Chief U.S. District Judge Nancy D. Freudenthal to 96 months imprisonment, three years of supervised release, and was ordered to pay a $100 special assessment. Smith was also ordered to pay $9271.41 in restitution for costs of medical care associated with the victim’s injuries.
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