Public Safety Initiatives and Special Announcements
Statement by Attorney General Eric Holder On The House Passage Of The Violence Against Women Act
Attorney General Eric Holder issued the following statement on February 28, 2013 on the House passage of the Violence Against Women Act:
“I am pleased that Congress has voted to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), a landmark law that has transformed the way we respond to domestic and sexual violence. This reauthorization includes crucial new provisions to improve our ability to bring hope and healing to the victims of these crimes, expand access to justice, and strengthen the prosecutorial and enforcement tools available to hold perpetrators accountable.
“Congress has also taken an historic step to finally close the loophole that left many Native American women without adequate protection. With this bill, tribes and the federal government can better work together to address domestic violence against Native American women, who experience the highest rates of assault in the United States. The bill also provides funding to improve the criminal justice response to sexual assault, ensuring that victims can access the services they need to heal. And it will help to build on evidence-based practices for reducing domestic violence homicides and prevent violence against our nation’s children, teens, and young adults.
“I applaud Congress for passing a bipartisan reauthorization that protects everyone – women and men, gay and straight, children and adults of all races, ethnicities, countries of origin, and tribal affiliations. The Department of Justice looks forward to implementing this historic legislation after it is signed into law.”
Justice Department Announces More Than $12.6 Million In Grants To 20 Communities To Reduce Dating Violence
The Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) today announced $12.6 million dollars in grants awarded to 20 communities as part of a new, consolidated program designed to more effectively reduce dating violence. For the first time, grantees can implement a comprehensive approach to dating violence that includes services for victims, prevention programs, partnering with schools and engaging men and boys in ending violence against women. OVW combined four separate grant programs into one, enabling more efficient, effective work and responding to the call for bold new initiatives from the Attorney General’s Task Force on Children Exposed to Violence.
Grantees will receive awards ranging from $350,000 to $1,000,000 based on the scope of their projects. The selected applicants are: Aleut Community of St. Paul Island, Alaska; The Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, Alaska; Center for Hope and Healing, Mass.; Deaf Abused Women’s Network, Washington, D.C.; The Family Partnership, Minn.; Family Violence and Rape Crisis Services, N.C.; Jenesse Center Inc., Calif.; Jewish Women International, Inc., Washington, D.C.; HOPE Works, Vt.; Mecklenburg County, N.C.; Meriden-Wallingford Chrysalis Inc., Conn.; Kalispel Tribe of Indians, Wash.; King County Sexual Assault Resource Center, Wash.; Nashville Young Women’s Christian Association, Tenn.; Peace Over Violence, Calif.; Project Pave, Colo.; SafeHaven of Tarrant County, Texas; Wiconi Wawokiya Inc., S.D.; Youth Organizations Umbrella Inc., Ill.; and YWCA Knoxville, Tenn.
For more information on OVW and its programs, please visit: www.ovw.usdoj.gov.
In Focus: Tribal Court Trial Advocacy Training Program
The Access to Justice Initiative is pleased to have partnered with the U.S. Department of Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs Office of Tribal Justice Services (OTJS) to develop the Tribal Court Trial Advocacy Training Program. This three-day trial advocacy course is designed to improve the trial skills of judges, public defenders, and prosecutors who appear in tribal courts. Starting in 2011, nine trainings have been held in Rapid City, South Dakota, Phoenix, Arizona, Duluth, Minnesota, Ignacio, Colorado, Great Falls, Montana, Chinle, Navajo Nation, Seattle, Washington, and Albuquerque, New Mexico, and additional trainings are being scheduled for the coming year. All trainings are free and are staffed by attorneys from the Initiative, BIA, Assistant United States Attorneys who practice in Indian Country, the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys’ Native American Issues Coordinator, Assistant Federal Public Defenders, and tribal prosecutors, public defenders, and judges.
The training program endeavors to strengthen tribal courts in furtherance of the Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010 (TLOA) and the authority that the statute recognizes for tribal courts to exercise jurisdiction over serious criminal cases including felonies that potentially carry lengthy prison sentences. In order for tribal courts to implement this enhanced sentencing authority, they must provide substantive and procedural safeguards, including lawyers for indigent defendants who face incarceration for more than one year and law-trained judges to preside over the cases. By providing trainings for defenders, prosecutors, and judges, the program aims to strengthen the skills of those who appear in tribal courts so that tribes can exercise greater sovereignty in criminal justice matters that occur on their lands.
The most recent training took place last week in Albuquerque, New Mexico, which was well-received by all participants. Additional trainings are being planned for the coming year and will be advertised when more information is available.
“The Tribal Court Trial Advocacy Program is one of the many successful collaborations between the Departments of Justice and Interior which aim to support and improve criminal justice in Indian Country,” said Tony West, Acting Associate Attorney General of the Department of Justice. “By providing training to improve the legal skills of everyone who appears in tribal courts – prosecutors, public defenders, and judges – we help strengthen the fair and efficient operation of the judicial system. We are pleased that the Access to Justice Initiative and the U.S. Attorney community are assisting the Bureau of Indian Affairs in this important endeavor.”
Significant Criminal Prosecutions
Man Sentenced For Sexual Assault, Unlawful Imprisonment and Witness Tampering On Indian Reservation (U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of Michigan)
U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade announced that Waylon James Pego, a 29-year-old resident of Mount Pleasant, Michigan, was sentenced on Feb. 28, to 360 months in prison for three counts of Unlawful Imprisonment, two counts of Aggravated Sexual Assault, three counts of Domestic Assault by a Habitual Offender, two counts of Assault Causing Serious Bodily Injury, two counts of Assault with a Dangerous Weapon with the Intent to Bodily Injury, three counts of Interfering with Electronic Communications, and one count of Witness Tampering.
U.S. District Judge Thomas L. Ludington also imposed five years of supervised release on Pego, who was convicted after a jury trial in November 2012. The evidence established that Pego victimized three separate victims for offenses that occurred in 2007, 2010, and 2012, in which Pego strangled the victims, held them against their will, threatened two of them with weapons, broke their telephones when they attempted to call for help, threatened to kill them, sexually assaulted one of them, and attempted to influence one victim’s testimony before the grand jury. The crimes occurred on the Isabella Reservation in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan.
Mount Pleasant Man Convicted Of Domestic Violence On Indian Reservation (U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of Michigan)
Samuel John Pego, a Mount Pleasant man, was convicted on Feb. 28 by a federal jury in Bay City, Michigan, for Unlawful Imprisonment, Domestic Assault by a Habitual Offender, Assault Causing Serious Bodily Injury, Assault with a Dangerous Weapon with the Intent To Do Bodily Injury, and two counts of Witness Tampering, United States Attorney Barbara L. McQuade announced.
Pego, 47, was convicted at trial before U.S. District Judge Thomas L. Ludington. Pego’s crimes occurred on the Isabella Reservation in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan. The charges stemmed from an incident which occurred between in July 2012, in which Pego struck the victim in the head with a fireplace poker and a belt buckle. Pego also threatened the victim with a knife, held her against her will, and tried to prevent her from reporting the attack to the police. Pego then attempted to influence her testimony in court. Pego faces up to 80 years in prison.
Mississippi Man Sentenced for Abusing Elderly Victim (U.S. Attorney’s Office, Southern District of Mississippi)
U.S. Attorney Gregory K. Davis, announced today that Duran Joe, 23, of Philadelphia, Mississippi, was sentenced to 129 months in federal prison followed by five years of supervised release for repeated sexual abuse of an elderly victim. The defendant must also register as a sex offender. The offense occurred within the boundaries of the Tribal Lands of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians.
Johnny Ray Rowland Sentenced in U.S. District Court (U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Montana)
U.S. Attorney Michael W. Cotter announced that during a federal court session in Billings, on Feb. 22, 2013, before Chief U.S. District Judge Richard F. Cebull, Johnny Ray Rowland, a 38-year-old resident of Lame Deer and an enrolled member of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe, was sentenced to a term of: 46 months in prison, 3 months of supervised release, and levied a special assessment of $200. Rowland was sentenced in connection with his guilty plea to assault with a deadly weapon and assault resulting in serious bodily injury. The confrontation between Rowland and the victim stemmed from a tussle over a bottle of alcohol. The victim was sitting in the passenger front seat of a car when Rowland approached the car and punched the victim in the head with brass knuckles, yelling threats and his intent to kill the victim. Rowland then pulled out a knife and slashed the victim on his head and below his chin.
Macy Man Sentenced for Assault (U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Nebraska)
U.S. Attorney Deborah R. Gilg announced that Wisdom P. Webster, age 29 of Macy, Nebraska, was sentenced in United States District Court in Omaha for Assault with a Dangerous Weapon. The Honorable Laurie Smith Camp, Chief Judge, sentenced Webster to 46 months in prison. After his release from prison Webster will begin a 3 year term of supervised release. On Jan. 7, 2012, Webster argued with the mother of his children at a bar in Walthill, Nebraska. They continued to argue before Webster hit and bit her. The bite resulted in the severance of the lower portion of her right ear lobe, a laceration to her eye lid, and bruises to her head and neck.
Grand Jury Indictments for the District of Nebraska (U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Nebraska)
U.S. Attorney Deborah R. Gilg announced on Feb. 21, 2013, that a federal Grand Jury for the District of Nebraska has returned 26 indictments charging 30 defendants. Indictments are charging documents that contain one or more individual counts that are merely accusations, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. Among the defendants were:
Christi Leigh Freemont, age 30, of Winnebago, Nebraska, is charged in a one-count Indictment with embezzlement from an Indian tribe. From on or about January 1, 2012, and continuing to on or about June 4, 2012, Freemont, an employee of the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska, embezzled more than $1,000 for her own use from the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska.
Floyd Victor Johnson, age 21, of Niobrara, Nebraska, is charged with sexual abuse of a minor sometime between on or about April 1, 2011, and on or about May 15, 2011, within the Santee Sioux Indian Reservation.
For more information: http://www.justice.gov/usao/ne/press–releases/feb/2013-02-21%20gj.html
Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo Man Pleads Guilty to Brandishing A Firearm During A Home Invasion On Santa Clara Pueblo (U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of New Mexico)
U.S. Attorney Kenneth J. Gonzales and DuWayne W. Honahni, Sr., Special Agent in Charge of District IV of BIA’s Office of Justice Services announced that Joshua W. Phillips, 20, a member and resident of Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo, N.M., pleaded guilty to brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence under a plea agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Phillips was arrested in June 2012, on a criminal complaint charging him with assault with a dangerous weapon and with the intent to do bodily harm. According to the criminal complaint, Phillips assaulted a man in February 2011, on Santa Clara Pueblo land within Rio Arriba County. Under the terms of the plea agreement, he will be sentenced to seven years in prison.
Former Director Of Navajo Economic Development Project Pleads Guilty to Evading Federal Taxes (U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of New Mexico)
U.S. Attorney Kenneth J. Gonzales announced on Feb. 21, 2013, that Hak Ghun, 62, of Durango, Colo., pleaded guilty to a federal tax evasion charge under a plea agreement. Under the terms of the plea agreement, Ghun will be sentenced to prison for a period of 12 to 18 months. He also will be required to pay $249,567 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Ghun was charged in April 2012, in a three-count indictment with evading an aggregate of $367,809 in federal taxes during tax years 2005, 2006 and 2007.
According to the indictment, Ghun was the chief executive officer of BCDS Manufacturing, Inc. (BCDS), a manufacturing company located in Shiprock, N.M. In 2003 and 2004, the Navajo Nation invested economic development funds in BCDS and became the majority owner of the company, and in 2006, obtained a $2.2 million loan for the purpose of expanding the BCDS facility in Shiprock. The indictment alleged that, between 2005 and 2007, Ghun used BCDS funds to pay his personal expenses and evaded his personal tax obligations on those funds by concealing his conduct from BCDS’s corporate accountant and by filing false corporate tax returns on behalf of BCDS.
In his plea agreement, Ghun admitted withdrawing funds from BCDS’s bank accounts and spending a significant portion of the funds for himself. He acknowledged that the funds he misused were taxable as personal income and that he failed to pay taxes on that income.
Navajo Man From Chichilta, N.M., Pleads Guilty to Federal Child Sex Abuse Charge (U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of New Mexico)
U.S. Attorney Kenneth J. Gonzales announced on Feb. 27, 2013, that Timothy Ignacio Duboise, 28, an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation who resides in Chichilta, N.M., pleaded guilty to an aggravated child sexual abuse charge under a plea agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
According to the criminal complaint, the FBI initiated a criminal investigation into Duboise after the Navajo Division of Social Service reported an allegation of child sexual assault. Duboise was arrested in July 2012, and has been in federal custody since that time.
During his plea hearing, Duboise admitted that, between July 15, 2011 and Aug. 15, 2011, he sexually assaulted a Navajo child by touching the child’s genitals. Duboise further admitted that the sexual assault occurred on the Navajo Indian Reservation. Under the terms of the plea agreement, Duboise will be sentenced to ten years in prison followed by a minimum five year term of supervised release. He also will be required to register as a sex offender.
Three Individuals Plead Guilty to Selling Meth on the Spirit Lake Indian Reservation (U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of North Dakota)
U.S. Attorney Timothy Q. Purdon announced that on Feb. 19, 2013, Fulton Merrick, Jr., Garrick Mini, and Rayone Sherman, each pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Ralph R. Erickson to a charge of distribution of a controlled substance. Merrick, Jr., 37, pleaded guilty to distributing approximately .40 grams of a substance containing a detectable amount of methamphetamine in August 2011. Mini, 32, pleaded guilty to distributing approximately .15 grams of methamphetamine in August 2011. Sherman, 44, pleaded guilty to distributing approximately .72 grams of a substance containing a detectable amount of methamphetamine in May 2011. All incidents occurred on the Spirit Lake Indian Reservation.
New Town Man Pleads Guilty to Involuntary Manslaughter (U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of North Dakota)
U.S. Attorney Timothy Q. Purdon announced that on Feb. 20, 2013, Merrill J. Mann II, 37, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to a charge of involuntary manslaughter. On April 20, 2012, Mann was the driver of a pickup traveling northbound on BIA Route 2 west of New Town. At the time, he was under the influence of intoxicating liquor. Mann pulled his vehicle into the intersection when a van was headed westbound carrying several passengers. Mann’s vehicle and the van collided. A passenger in the van was killed as a result of injuries sustained in the collision. The charge of involuntary manslaughter carries a statutory maximum penalty of eight years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine.
Rosebud Man Sentenced for Assault (U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of South Dakota)
On March 1, 2013, U.S. Attorney Brendan V. Johnson announced that a Rosebud, South Dakota man convicted of Assault by Habitual Domestic Offender was sentenced on February 25, 2013 by U.S. District Judge Roberto A. Lange. Alvin Joseph Running Horse, 34, was sentenced to 27 months in prison, two years of supervised release, and a $100 special assessment to the Victim Assistance Fund. Running Horse pleaded guilty to the charge on December 3, 2012.
The conviction stems from an incident that took place in Dec. 2011, when Running Horse assaulted his domestic partner by pulling her hair and hitting her in the chest twice with his fist. At the time of the assault, Running Horse had a final conviction on three separate prior occasions in the Rosebud Sioux Tribal Court for offenses that would have been, if subject to federal jurisdiction, an assault against a spouse or intimate partner.
St. Francis Man Sentenced for Involuntary Manslaughter (U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of South Dakota)
U.S. Attorney Brendan V. Johnson announced that a St. Francis, South Dakota man convicted of Involuntary Manslaughter was sentenced on Feb. 20, 2013 by U.S. District Judge Roberto A. Lange. Thomas Hacker Sr., 50, was sentenced to 30 months in custody, one year of supervised release, and a $100 special assessment to the Victim Assistance Fund. Hacker pleaded guilty to the charge in November 2012.
The conviction stems from an incident that took place in August 2012, when Hacker was driving a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol. Hacker decelerated as he came out of the shoulder of the road and struck the victim who was walking along the edge of the road. The victim died from injuries sustained in the crash.
Eagle Butte Woman Indicted For Child Abuse (U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of South Dakota)
U.S. Attorney Brendan V. Johnson announced on March 1, 2013, that an Eagle Butte, South Dakota woman has been indicted by a federal grand jury for Child Abuse.
Alex White Eyes, 23, was indicted by a federal grand jury on Feb. 13, 2013. She appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark A. Moreno on Feb. 19, 2013 and pleaded not guilty to the indictment. The maximum penalty upon conviction is 15 years of custody, a $250,000 fine, or both; three years of supervised release; and a $100 special assessment. The charge is merely an accusation, and White Eyes is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
Eastern Shoshone Man Sentenced for Assault Resulting in Serious Bodily Injury (U.S. Attorney for the District of Wyoming)
U.S. Attorney Christopher A. Crofts announced that on February 20, 2013, Russell Hill, a 19-year-old enrolled Eastern Shoshone from the Wind River Indian Reservation, appeared in Federal District Court for sentencing before United States District Judge Scott W. Skavdahl on a single count of assault resulting in serious bodily injury. Hill received 29 months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release and was ordered to pay a $100 special assessment and restitution in the amount of $12,363.25. The charge stemmed from a stabbing which occurred in June 2012, on the Wind River Indian Reservation.