$900K scam charges dropped

By Anthony Skeens, The Triplicate January 10, 2013 11:12 am

DA still expects U.S. Attorney’s Office to step in

Charges against three men accused of embezzling nearly $900,000 from the Yurok Tribe have been dismissed by the Del Norte County District Attorney’s Office.

The decision to dismiss the charges against former Yurok Forestry Director Roland Raymond and Humboldt biologists Ron LeValley and Sean McAllister came after several court continuances  while the DA’s Office waited for the U.S. Attorney’s Office to pick up the case, DA Jon Alexander said.

“No purpose is served by more continuances, which needlessly clog up our calenders and court system,” said Alexander. “We fully anticipated the U.S. Attorney’s Office would have filed by now. We were told by the U.S. Attorney’s Office charges would be filed by mid-summer of last year.”

Apparently, further investigations by the office have delayed charges being brought forth against LeValley and McAllister, Alexander said.

“We have the ability to refile if we feel justice will not be dealt in the justice system,” said Alexander. “Although the DA’s Office did all of the major work in putting this case together, it is a federal case; they have piggybacked on the efforts and talents of my investigative staff.” 

A majority of the money — $870,064 — is alleged to have been purloined from the tribe’s coffers over a two-year period for spotted owl surveys that were not completed by Mad River Biologists, a consortium of scientists based in Eureka, a court document states. The money allegedly embezzled was from funds allocated for the Endangered Species Act by the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Raymond is alleged to have employed the help of LeValley, 65, and McAllister, 45, both biologists at Mad River Biologists.  

Raymond is set to be arraigned  Monday in Eureka on federal embezzlement charges, but there has no word on federal charges against LeValley or McAllister in connection with the embezzlement.

“I can neither confirm or deny we will file charges,” said Jack Gillund, a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

He also declined to comment on why it has taken this long to begin prosecution of Raymond.

The DA’s Office dismissed charges against the three men without prejudice, meaning that Alexander could refile charges as he sees fit.

“By no means have we lost jurisdiction to pursue this matter,” said Alexander. 

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