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Press Release

Puyallup Tribal Member Sentenced to 18 Months in Prison for Strangulation Assault on Intimate Partner

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Washington
Defendant later Cut Electronic Monitoring Bracelet and Fled from Court Supervision

          A 20-year-old enrolled member of the Puyallup Tribe was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to 18 months in prison and three years of supervised release for assault by strangulation, announced U.S. Attorney Brian T. Moran.  SHAWN MICHAEL SAM of Tacoma was indicted in November 2017 for an assault that occurred on the Swinomish Reservation on October 15, 2017.  SAM punched and strangled his then-girlfriend to the point that she lost consciousness.  U.S. District Judge John C. Coughenour imposed the sentence.

            According to records filed in the case, the victim suffered significant injuries including black eyes, tenderness, and swelling.  After SAM strangled his victim, he continued to punch and hit her after she regained consciousness.  Following his arrest for this assault, SAM was released with electronic monitoring.  However, he cut the monitoring bracelet on May 2, 2018, and was ultimately located nearly four weeks later at his sister’s home in Tacoma.  When law enforcement arrived, SAM ran from police but was taken into custody following a foot chase.

            Swinomish Chairman Brian Cladoosby wrote to the court, “We take these matters very seriously and we will not tolerate this behavior in our community.  The Violence Against Women Act is important for our State and Nation and protects the most vulnerable in our communities. We support Judge Coughenour to uphold justice for the victims and support his decision.”

            SAM pleaded guilty August 29, 2018.

            The case was investigated by the Swinomish Police Department and the FBI.  The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Rebecca Cohen and J. Tate London.  Ms. Cohen and Mr. London serve as Tribal Liaisons for the U.S. Attorney’s Office specially designated to prosecute cases involving Tribal communities.


Press contact for the U.S. Attorney’s Office is Public Affairs Officer Emily Langlie at (206) 553-4110 or

Updated March 5, 2019

Indian Country Law and Justice