Former Yurok Tribe Forestry Director Sentenced To 37 Months For Embezzlement
SAN FRANCISCO – Roland Leroy Raymond was sentenced today to three years in prison, and ordered to pay $852,000 in restitution for embezzling approximately $850,000 from the Yurok Indian Tribe of Northern California, announced United States Attorney Melinda Haag, Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge David J. Johnson, and Department of Interior Office of Inspector General, Western Investigations Office, Special Agent in Charge Jack Rohmer.
Raymond, the Tribe’s former Forestry Director, pleaded guilty on May 22, 2013, to having carried out a scheme to embezzle approximately $850,000 in funds the United States Department of Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs had authorized for specific environmental uses under the Endangered Species Act. In his plea agreement, Raymond admitted conspiring with at least one person at Mad River Biologists (“MRB”), a local biological consulting firm based in Eureka, to steal the money. (MRB’s owner and founder has been charged separately in a case that remains pending. CR 13-683 WHA)
According to the plea agreement, from approximately 2007 through the end of 2010, Raymond abused his position of trust within the Tribe by procuring false invoices from MRB for environmental work MRB never performed. MRB submitted the invoices to the Tribe and Raymond approved them for payment. MRB funneled most of the money it received as a result of the fraudulent invoices back to Raymond, who spent the cash on gambling and drugs.
Raymond, 51, of Eureka, California, was charged by an Information filed on January 11, 2013. The Information alleged a single count of Conspiracy to Commit Embezzlement and Theft from an Indian Tribal Organization, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 371 and 1163.
Today’s sentencing followed two prior sentencing hearings. In the first, held on November 19, 2013, the court heard victim-impact statements from five members of the Yurok Tribal Council, including the Chairman and Executive Director. On December 23, 2013, the court took testimony to address allegations that Raymond had attempted to mislead the court regarding his treatment at the Santa Rita Jail facility.
The sentence was handed down by The Honorable William Alsup, United States District Court Judge, following Raymond’s guilty plea to the charge contained in the Information. Judge Alsup also sentenced the defendant to a three-year period of supervised release following his release from custody, as well as ordering him to pay restitution in the amount of $852,000. The defendant, who was already in federal custody, will begin serving his sentence immediately.
The prosecution is the result of an investigation begun by the Del Norte County District Attorney and continued by the Department of Interior Office of Inspector General and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Following the sentencing, U.S. Attorney Haag expressed her appreciation for the excellent work done by the Del Norte County District Attorney’s Office, the FBI, and the DOI OIG. Special Assistant United States Attorney Casey O’Neill and Assistant United States Attorney David Callaway prosecuted the case with the assistance of legal assistants Elise Etter and Rawaty Yim.