Coachella, CA, July 10, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Los Angeles Federal District Court Judge Michael Fitzgerald imposed sentence on Professor David Alan Heslop for a bribery conviction relating to the Twenty-Nine Palms Band of Mission Indians Tribe on Monday, June 30, 2014. Judge Fitzgerald sentenced Heslop to twenty-one months in federal prison and three years thereafter on supervised parole. The Judge also imposed a judgment of $300,000 in criminal restitution.
The Tribe's former general counsel, Gary Kovall also pled guilty to a felony count and will be sentenced by Judge Fitzgerald on September 29, 2014.
"We are pleased that Judge Fitzgerald imposed nearly two years in prison and a financial judgment as well," said Darrell Mike, Tribal Chairman for Twenty-Nine Palms Band of Mission Indians. "This decision reinforces the notion that if someone takes advantage of Native Americans, they will be held accountable."
Prior to the sentencing, Heslop pled guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery, cheating the Twenty-Nine Palms Band of Mission Indians Tribe out of millions of dollars related to construction and real estate transactions. Heslop orchestrated multiple fraudulent transactions unbeknownst to the Tribe. Kovall negotiated multiple construction contracts with Paul Phillip Bardos, a general contractor from Rancho Cucamonga, who in turn, kicked back hundreds of thousands of dollars to Heslop. Heslop then forwarded hundreds of thousands of dollars to Kovall and his wife. Bardos has also pled guilty for tax evasion.
In imposing the sentence, Judge Fitzgerald stated on the record that the severity of the sentence was in part to send a message of deterrence to Indian Country advisors that violation of federal laws designed to protect Tribes from dishonest advisors and consultants would not be tolerated.
Professor Heslop was previously an advisor to Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush and also a former professor of political science at Claremont McKenna College and founder of the conservative think tank, the Rose Institute. Bardos, a former student of Heslop, and Kovall were all participants in the Institute.
About Twenty-Nine Palms Band of Mission Indians:
The Twenty-Nine Palms Band of Mission Indians trace their origins back to the Chemeheuvi, a peaceful and nomadic tribe whose territory once covered Utah, Arizona and Southern Nevada. In the mid - 1800s the Chemeheuvi migrated from Colorado River Valley to the more remote areas of the Mojave Desert. In 1867, a group of Chemeheuvi settled at the Oasis of Twenty-Nine Palms. The Twenty-Nine Palms Band of Mission Indians are their descendants. As children of the Wolf, the Band has always drawn upon his strength and intelligence as well as wit and survival skills of coyote to endure and sustain themselves. Today the Band's reservation lands are located near the town of Twenty-Nine Palms where Tortoise Rock Casino is located, as well as in the City of Coachella, home to the Tribe's sister casino, Spotlight 29 Casino. The proceeds from both Tribal casinos help provide housing, education and financial security for future generations.
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Source:Twenty-Nine Palms Band of Mission Indians