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Press Release

Laguna Pueblo Man Pleads Guilty to Federal Assault Charge

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of New Mexico

Defendant Prosecuted as Part of Federal Initiative to Address
the Epidemic Incidence of Violence Against Native Women

ALBUQUERQUE – Dominque Begay, 50, a member of Laguna Pueblo who resides in Old Laguna, N.M., pleaded guilty this morning to an indictment charging him with assault resulting in serious bodily injury.  The guilty plea was entered under a plea agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Begay was arrested on Aug. 26, 2014, on a criminal complaint charging him with assault resulting in serious bodily injury.  According to the complaint, on Aug. 20, 2014, officers of the Laguna Pueblo Tribal Police Department responded to a report of assault in Old Laguna in Cibola County, N.M.  The complaint alleged that Begay assaulted the victim, a Laguna Pueblo woman, by punching, kicking and choking her.  The officers noted that the victim had bruising and redness on her neck, arms and back.  Begay was arrested by the tribal officers that day on local charges and held in tribal custody until his arrest on federal charges. 

Begay was indicted on Sept. 9, 2014, and charged with assault resulting in serious bodily injury.

During today’s proceedings, Begay entered a guilty plea to the indictment and admitted assaulting the victim by knocking her to the ground and causing her to hit her head against a wall.  Begay also admitted causing the victim extreme physical pain by putting his hands on the victim’s throat and squeezing.

At sentencing Begay faces a statutory maximum penalty of ten years in federal prison.  Begay has been in federal custody since his arrest and remains detained pending his sentencing hearing which has yet to be scheduled.

This case was investigated by the Laguna/Acoma Agency of the BIA’s Office of Justice Services and the Laguna Pueblo Tribal Police Department.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul H. Spiers is prosecuting this case.

The case was brought pursuant to the Tribal Special Assistant U.S. Attorney (Tribal SAUSA) Pilot Project in the District of New Mexico which is sponsored by the Justice Department’s Office on Violence Against Women under a grant administered by the Pueblo of Laguna.  The Tribal SAUSA Pilot Project seeks to train tribal prosecutors in federal law, procedure and investigative techniques to increase the likelihood that every viable violent offense against Native women is prosecuted in either federal court or tribal court, or both.  The Tribal SAUSA Pilot Project was largely driven by input gathered from annual tribal consultations on violence against women, and is another step in the Justice Department's on-going efforts to increase engagement, coordination and action on public safety in tribal communities.

Updated January 26, 2015