SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Leallen Blackhair, 45, of Fort Duchesne, Utah, pleaded guilty Monday Dec. 5, 2022 to nine counts of Extortion Under Color of Official Right as set forth in the indictment.
Blackhair waived his right to a trial and admitted to the facts of his criminal behavior, which interfered with or affected interstate commerce.
According to the Statement in Advance of Plea of Guilty, Mr. Blackhair was the Compliance Coordinator of the Energy and Minerals Department of the Ute Indian Tribe. Blackhair’s position included issuing fines to oil and gas businesses working on the Uintah and Ouray Reservation who were found in violation of their access permits and business licenses by his employer. Blackhair used his position to induce and attempt to induce multiple companies to pay him personally by offering to reduce a fine that would otherwise be assessed against them. Blackhair extorted sixty-six payments totaling $110,000, paid directly to and for the benefit of the defendant between August 2010 and May 2013.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Cy H. Castle for the District of Utah and investigated by the FBI’s Salt Lake City Field Office. Sentencing is scheduled for March 29, 2023.