Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Former tribal chairman tied to Detroit Casino Syndicators guilty of campaign finance violations, fraud

The U.S. Attorney's Office in Massachusetts has announced that former Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Chairman Glenn A. Marshall was charged on Monday, 12.15.08, in U.S. District Court with violations of campaign finance law and fraud in connection with efforts to secure federal recognition for the Tribe and ulitmately develop a large Indian casino. (See Official Complaint)

Marshall has agreed to plea guilty to all counts in exchange for a reduced sentence on the charges. (See Plea Agreement)

Marshall also promised to fully cooperate with federal investigators, who last year targeted his fellow tribe leaders as well as tribe lobbyists, and investors in a subpoena for financial documents. Several of them — including the tribe's original backer, Herb Strather of Detroit — are referenced blindly in the court documents.

Strather is noted in the DOJ complaint as "Investor A" the founder, manager and largest investor in Michigan-based AtMashpee LLC, a casino syndicate reportedly made up of some 200 investors. Strather was one of the original members in a syndicate behind Detroit's MotorCity Casino; however, after required investigation, the Michigan Gaming Control Board failed to grant Strather a gaming license.

The charges against Marshall specifically reference his ties to convicted former lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

According to prosecutors, from 2003 to 2007, Marshall received some $4 million from Strather's syndicate AtMashpee LLC. Marshall put the funds from Strather in the dormant Mashpee Fisherman's Association which he then used to pay for lobbying efforts and campaign contributions on behalf of the tribe, but failed to disclose the fund in tribal tax returns. Marshall reportedly spent some $380,000 from the fund on personal expenses including groceries, vacations, home repairs, a mortgage payment and jewelry but failed to report any of that as income on federal tax returns.

Marshall will face 41 to 57 months in prison and will pay back any money owed to the Internal Revenue Service.

Without the plea deal, Marshall could have faced 5 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 for four of the charges and a 20-year prison sentence and a $1 million fine for the wire fraud charge.

In February 2007 the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe received Federal Recognition. The Mashpee Tribe ousted Marshall as chairman in August 2007. The Tribe has been pursuing plans to build a large casino resort in Middleborough, MA, on Cape Cod.

Strather financed and directed the tribe's efforts to win Federal Recognition and purchased property in Middleborough proposed for the casino resort. Then Strather sold controlling interest in the venture to international gaming magnet Sol Kerzner and his partner Len Wolman. That pair was behind Connecticut's Mohegan Sun casino resort.

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