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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Texas

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

“Chief” Sentenced for Selling Membership in Fake Indian Tribe

BROWNSVILLE, Texas – A former Brownsville man, now living in Waco, has been ordered to federal prison following his convictions of selling membership in a non-recognized Indian tribe, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson. Humberto Reveles, 61, pleaded guilty in March 2015. 

Today, U.S. District Judge U.S. District Judge Andrew S. Hanen handed Reveles a 33-month sentence to be immediately followed by three years of supervised release. He was further ordered to pay restitution of $198,795 to 144 victims of the scheme. In handing down the sentence, Judge Hanen noted that this scheme was just as bad as coyotes smuggling people past the checkpoint. He also noted that this crime was victimizing the individuals who could least afford it (undocumented aliens).

At the time of his plea, Reveles admitted to selling membership in the Yamassee tribe as part of a scheme to defraud. Reveles was the chief, and later grand chief, of the tribe. He claimed the tribal identification documents that came with membership would allow tribe members to remain in the United States, prevent them from being deported, allow them to travel within and work in the country, despite not having immigration status.

Reveles opened an office where he would meet with prospective tribe members in addition to holding informational meetings. Prospective tribe members would pay Reveles or his employees and were to receive tribal naturalization certificates, tribal identification cards and tribal drivers’ licenses. The documents were to be presented in support of the false immigration claims underlying the scheme. 

The Yamassee tribe not a federally-recognized Indian tribe nor recognized by the U.S. Department of State.

Previously released on bond, Reveles was permitted to remain on bond and voluntarily surrender in December 2016.  

The case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations and U.S Department of State - Diplomatic Security Service with assistance from Border Patrol, FBI and the Brownsville Police Department.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Leonard is prosecuting the case.

Updated October 11, 2016