Former Legal Counsel for Twenty-Nine Palms Accused of Defrauding Tribe
A former attorney for the Twenty-Nine Palms Band of Mission Indians was one of four indicted on May 9 on 48-counts of bribery and money laundering according to the Los Angeles Times.
Gary Edward Kovall, 66, a Minnesota-based attorney who acted as legal counsel for the tribe, advised the tribe to create a limited liability company to purchase real estate, according to the indictment. He also convinced them to hire his friends where he received kickbacks.
The other three involved and charged are David Alan Heslop, 74, of Templeton, California; Paul Phillip Bardos, 57, of Rancho Cucamonga, a general contractor; and Peggy Anne Shambaugh, 56, of Ely, Minnesota, who is Kovall’s wife.
According to an article at law.com, the kickbacks were paid through Shambaugh.
“This case demonstrates that our commitment extends to vigorously pursuing cases against unscrupulous individuals who abuse their positions to take advantage of Native American tribes,” U.S. Attorney André Birotte Jr in Los Angeles according to law.com.
If convicted of all charges the four stand to face the following:
- Kovall – 75 years in federal prison and a $2 million fine
- Heslop – 225 years in federal prison and a $5.75 million fine
- Bardos – 155 years in federal prison and a $4 million fine
Shambaugh – 105 years in federal prison and a $2.75 million fine