Monday, November 24, 2008

Jury Convicts Former Passamoquoddy Leader, Finance Director

Feather News

A former Passamaquoddy Tribal governor and the Tribe's former finance director were found guilty by a federal jury in the misapplication of tribal funds and for making false statements to government agencies.

Former Indian Township Tribal Governor Robert Newell and former finance director James J. Parisi Jr., were found guilty of charges that included conspiracy to defraud and intentionally misapply tribal government funds and health care benefit funds and guilty of the misapplication of those funds between Oct. 1, 2004, and Sept. 30, 2006.

Parisi's attorneys argued that he had no authority to act on his own and shifted money only at Newell’s direction. Assistant U.S. Attorney James Chapman Jr., who prosecuted the case.

Newell served as the tribal governor at Indian Township in Maine from 2002 to 2006. While the governing body for Indian Township is the tribal council, former governor Newell was the chief administrator. He was indicted last March by a federal grand jury after a 3-year investigation.

Of the nearly 3,400 Passamaquoddy tribal members on land that is divided by the St. Croix river that marks the boundary between Canada and the U.S., almost 1,400 members live in Indian Township in Maine.

Each man faces up to 10 years in federal prison, fines, and could be ordered to pay nearly $2 million in restitution to six federal agencies.