Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Yurok Grift

Questions linger in million-dollar embezzlement scheme after fugitive surrenders - Ryan Burns/The Journal

Former Yurok employee, Eureka biologists allegedly embezzle tribal funds; Del Norte DA's Office said more than $900,000 stolen - Megan Hansen/Times Standard 2/24/2012
A former Yurok Tribal employee and two Eureka biologists are suspected of embezzling more than $900,000 from the Yurok Tribe, according to officials with the Del Norte County District Attorney's Office.
Del Norte County District Attorney Jon Alexander said Thursday that warrants were issued for the arrest of former Yurok Tribe Forestry Director Roland Raymond, senior biologist Ron LeValley with Mad River Biologists and associate biologist Sean McAllister with Mad River Biologists. All the warrants were for $1 million and allege the men committed crimes of burglary, embezzlement and conspiracy to commit a crime.

Roland Raymond turns himself in to authorities Thursday; former Yurok Tribe forestry director accused of embezzling federal funds - Megan Hansen/Times Standard 4/06/2012
Former Yurok Tribe Forestry Director Roland Raymond, 49, was booked into the Del Norte County jail at 9:30 a.m. Thursday after turning himself in to authorities, according to the Del Norte County District Attorney's Office.

Raymond had been on the run since Feb. 23, when authorities served search warrants at his home on the 2200 block of Hillcrest Avenue just outside Eureka city limits. A $1 million warrant for Raymond's arrest was issued, alleging he committed crimes of burglary, embezzlement and conspiracy to commit a crime.

It's alleged that Raymond and his two co-conspirators used an elaborate system of fake invoices, false purchase requests and electronic bank transfers to embezzle more than $870,000 in federal funds from the Yurok Tribe during a three-year period of wildlife preservation studies. Raymond worked as the tribe's forestry director from 1994 to October 2011, with the wildlife survey embezzlements allegedly taking place from 2008 to 2010.

In addition, Raymond is suspected of embezzling more funds from the tribe through other false purchase requests, putting the embezzlement total in the $1 million range. He allegedly falsified a number of purchases ranging from Apple iPads to gasoline log reimbursements. A brake job, four new tires, a fuel pump and a filter were allegedly purchased using tribal funds in 2010 and 2011 for the benefit of Raymond's personal vehicles or those of his friends.

Mad River Biologists' senior biologist Ron LeValley, 65, and associate biologist Sean McAllister, 45, have already been arraigned in the case on charges of embezzlement, grant theft and conspiracy. Both are currently free on bails of $150,000 and $50,000, respectively. Their bail amounts were initially set at $1 million each but were reduced by a judge.

Del Norte County District Attorney Jon Alexander said it's disturbing that these men would use funds aimed at protecting animals like the spotted owl to line their own pockets.
Alleged embezzler Roland Raymond surrenders to authorities - Dan Bacher /Indybay 4/06/2012
Can MLPA Initiative science be trusted in light of embezzlement charges?

The arrest of Ronald LeValley on charges of Felony Embezzlement of Public Funds, Grand Theft and Conspiracy have led many to question the integrity of decisions made by the MLPA Science Advisory Team.

"How are we to trust any of the science of the 'Initiative' – when the Co-Chair of the MLPA Initiative’s 'Science Advisory Team' Ron LeValley, was recently arrested on felony fraud and embezzlement charges?," said David Gurney, Co-Chair of the Ocean Protection Coalition, in his comments regarding the Draft Environmental Impact Report for North Coast "marine protected areas." (http://noyonews.net/?p=5270)

"The science used for implementation of these MLPA closures needs to be fully and independently investigated and verified, following Mr. LeValley's felony arrest. Until then, none of the science in this DEIR can be considered valid," Gurney emphasized.
Embezzelment Suspect Turns Himself in to District Attorney’s Office - Two Rivers Tribune 4/10/2012

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