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Press Release

Lummi Tribal Member Sentenced to Prison for Being Habitual Domestic Abuser

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Washington
Statute and Penalties Aimed at Reducing Violence Against Native Women

          A 50-year-old enrolled member of the Lummi Tribe was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to two years in federal prison for his assault on his estranged wife, announced U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes.  LONNIE JESS JAMES, Sr., of Bellingham and the Lummi Reservation, was found to be a habitual offender based on three prior domestic violence assaults that were prosecuted in Lummi Tribal Court.  U.S. District Judge John C. Coughenour imposed three years of supervised release to follow the prison term.

            “Domestic violence destroys families and can do serious long-term damage to victims,” said U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes.  “This defendant was prosecuted multiple times by Lummi Tribal authorities and did not get the message that he had to stop.  The federal sentence imposed in this case makes clear – we will not tolerate intimate partner violence in our tribal communities.”

            According to records filed in the case, JAMES was convicted in Lummi Tribal Court of assaulting his wife on March 4, 2014, September 1, 2011, and September 11, 2007.  On November 14, 2014, JAMES entered the home of his estranged wife in violation of a no contact order and assaulted her.  He struck her repeatedly and slammed her head against the floor.  When she tried to call 9-1-1 for help, JAMES grabbed the phone and threw the victim against the wall so hard that her head made a hole in the drywall.  Fortunately another person in the home intervened and stopped JAMES.

            JAMES is the third person prosecuted by the office for Domestic Abuse by a Habitual Offender.

            The case was investigated by the Lummi Tribal Police Department and the FBI.  The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney J. Tate London.

Updated August 18, 2015

Indian Country Law and Justice
Violent Crime