Three former officials of the Paskenta Band of Nomlaki Indians Tribe pleaded guilty to engaging in conspiracy to embezzle millions of dollars from the tribe and related tax fraud. By doing so, they admitted guilt to a January 2017 federal criminal indictment that alleged a decade-long scheme to steal millions from the tribe.
The former officials who pleaded guilty on Thursday are: Ines Crosby, former tribal administrator; John Crosby, former tribal economic development director; and Leslie Lohse, former tribal treasurer. The trio entered their pleas before Judge Morrison England of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California.
“As the tribe alleged in its lawsuit, for over a decade, these individuals ran the tribe’s government as a brutal kleptocracy, enriching themselves and their families while brutally punishing those who opposed them,” said counsel for the Tribe, Stuart G. Gross of Gross & Klein LLP, in a press release. “These guilty pleas concede that.”
Sentencing will occur on Jan. 30, 2020. According to sentencing guidelines, all three face prison sentences of at least four years and may be ordered to pay millions of dollars in restitution to the tribe and the IRS, according to the press release.
"These guilty pleas represent an important step towards vindication and justice for Tribe members," said Tribal Chairman Andrew Alejandre. "In addition to the millions they stole from the Tribe and our most vulnerable members, the actions of these individuals corrupted the tribe's institutions of government and created distrust that has taken years to restore.
"The tribe appreciates the important assistance that the U.S. Attorneys Office, the FBI, and the IRS have provided in rebuilding that trust. These agencies’ successful prosecution of these individuals and their close work with the Tribe in the process represent the best of inter-government cooperation.
“The tribe has worked hard, for the last five years, to build an open, democratic, and representative tribal government that works for the benefit of all members. Sending these former officials to jail for their corruption significantly assists in that process.”
A parallel civil RICO action by the tribe, Paskenta Band of Nomlaki Indians, et al. v. Crosby, et. al, No. 15-cv-0538 (E.D. Cal.), in which the tribe is represented by Gross of Gross & Klein, preceded the criminal indictment of these individuals. The RICO action is currently stayed pending the resolution of the criminal matter.
For more information about that action contact Stuart G. Gross, of Gross & Klein, at (415) 671-4628, firstname.lastname@example.org.