A mother and daughter received probation yesterday for their roles in the theft and illegal trafficking of Indian artifacts in Utah, The Associated Press reported today.
Government lawyers sought a prison sentence of at least 18 months for Jeanne Redd on multiple counts stemming from the Utah Indian artifacts raid in June, according to The AP. She received three years of probation and a $2,000 fine on seven felony counts. Her daughter, Jerrica Redd, got two years of probation on three related counts. The mother and daughter pleaded guilty to the charges in July.
More than 150 federal agents were involved in the raid that nabbed more than two dozen people for alleged violations of the Archaeological Resources Protection Act and the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act. Utah U.S. Attorney Brett Tolman had to issue a statement and hold a news conference to defend the federal actions, which drew scorn from Utah officials, including Republican Sens. Orrin Hatch and Bob Bennett.
Hatch said the raid was “unnecessary and brutal.” Physician James Redd, Jeanne Redd’s husband, committed suicide a day after he was charged in the raid, followed by the suicide of another suspect a week later.
Tolman told The AP that a prison sentence for Jeanne Redd would have been the correct decision “given the serious nature of the conduct involved in this case.”
“The judge, however, reached a different decision and we recognize that sentencing is within the court’s discretion,” Tolman told the news wire. “The public needs to understand that looting artifacts, many considered sacred by Native Americans, from public and tribal lands is simply not going to be tolerated.”
U.S. District Judge Clark Waddoups said, according to The AP, that artifact collecting isn’t justified simply because it is a “culturally accepted” hobby in the Southwest. But he did not follow federal judiciary sentencing guidelines, saying Jeanne Redd was repentant, quickly surrendered and is an important community member who is still coping with her husband’s suicide, the news wire reported.
“I am satisfied this conduct will not be repeated,” he said, according to The AP.
The judge said he was aware Jeanne Redd had a past encounter with the law over Indian artifacts, according to The AP. Jeanne and James Redd paid the state of Utah $10,000 in 2003 after they were prosecuted for looting an Indian burial ground. The charges against James Redd for the 1996 incident were eventually dropped, while his wife pleaded no contest to a reduced charge.
Jerrica Redd was not charged during the June 10 raid. Authorities later found evidence in the Redds’ home that allegedly connected her to the artifact thefts, The Salt Lake Tribune reported.
Jeanne and Jerrica Redd were the first people from the raid to be sentenced.
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The sheriff of San Juan County, Utah, won’t rule out asking state prosecutors to bring charges against federal agents he said acted brutally during the federal government’s controversial round-up of accused Indian artifact traffickers, The Salt Lake Tribune reported this afternoon.
Sheriff Mike Lacy, whose brother was arrested in the high-profile raid, told The Tribune he is “not saying yay or nay” on pursuing state charges against the federal agents. But San Juan County Attorney Craig C. Halls sounded doubtful. ”My initial reaction would be [filing charges] may be questionable,” Halls told the newspaper.
Attorney General Eric Holder received flack from Republican Sens. Orrin Hatch and Bob Bennett of Utah for the force used in the raid, even though the most serious injury was a suspect’s broken toe.
Hatch said in June that the use of more than 100 armed agents to arrest 24 alleged perpetrators for non-violent crimes was “unnecessary and brutal.” Two defendants have committed suicide since the June 10 raid, and a man with white supremacist ties was indicted for threatening to tie a government informant to a tree and beat him with a baseball bat.
Read our previous report about the suicides here.
Utah U.S. Attorney Brett Tolman said in a June news conference that the raid was conducted under standard operating procedure and to deny that excessive force was used.
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Jeanne Redd and her daughter, Jerrica Redd, pleaded guilty this afternoon to multiple theft and illegal trafficking charges stemming from the Utah Indian artifacts raid last month.
Jeanne Redd was indicted during the June 10 raid that drew scorn many Utah offiicals, including Republican Sens. Orrin Hatch and Bob Bennett. Hatch said the raid was “unnecessary and brutal.” Physician James Redd, Jeanne Redd’s husband, committed suicide a day after he was indicted in the raid, followed by the suicide of another suspect a week later.
More than 150 federal agents were involved in the roundup of Utahans suspected of violating the Archaeological Resources Protection Act and the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act. The U.S. Attorney for Utah, Brett Tolman, had to issue a statement and hold a news conference to defend the federal actions.
Jeanne and James Redd had had a previous run-in with the law over Indian artifacts. The Redds paid the state of Utah $10,000 in 2003 after they were prosecuted for raiding an Indian burial ground. The charges against James Redd for the 1996 incident were eventually dropped, while his wife pleaded no contest to a reduced charge.
Jerrica Redd was not indicted during the June 10 raid. Authorities later found evidence in the Redds’ home that allegedly connected her to the artifact thefts, The Salt Lake Tribune reported.
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The Justice Department supports the creation of a permanent DOJ Office of Tribal Justice with a presidentially-appointed head, according to a DOJ spokesperson.
The Office of Tribal Justice was created under a federal statute in 1995, but exists at the discretion of the Attorney General. OTJ serves as the DOJ’s point of contact with Indian tribes on tribal justice issues. The Senate Indian Affairs Committee is considering legislation that would make OTJ a permanent division within the Justice Department.
Associate Attorney General Tom Perrelli said in a statement submitted to the panel yesterday that the Justice Department supports the creation of a permanent OTJ – like the Office of Legal Counsel – but not the establishment of a permanent tribal justice division – like the Civil Rights Division. He said the OTJ would work better as a permanent office because divisions are “generally large litigating components” of the Justice Department.
“The Office facilitates coordination between Departmental components working on Indian issues, and provides a constant channel of communication for Indian tribal governments with the Department,” Perrelli said. “The Department agrees that it is time to recognize OTJ as a critical and permanent entity within DOJ.”
This is only the latest in a series of efforts by the Justice Department to reach out to Indian tribes. The Justice Department is already doling out hundreds of millions of dollars to tribal justice programs through grants and the Recovery Act, including $225 million for tribal correctional facilities. Last week, Perrelli said Attorney General Eric Holder will hold the Tribal Nations Listening Conference later in the year to help address the concerns of tribal leaders. Perrelli and Deputy Attorney General David Ogden also plan to hold smaller meetings with Indian tribes.
This new emphasis on tribal affairs by the DOJ has delighted members of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee. Senate Indian Affairs Chair Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) said he was shocked when he read a Washington Post article that noted DOJ’s emphasis on tribal issues.
“I almost swallowed by Grape Nuts whole from my cereal,” Dorgan said.
But not all senators are happy with how the Justice Department is handling crime in Indian country.
Republican Utah Sens. Orrin Hatch and Bob Bennett criticized Justice Department for the force it used during a high-profile raid earlier this month on people who allegedly took Indian artifacts from tribal lands in Utah. Hatch said at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing with Holder last week that the use of more than a 100 armed agents to arrest a dozen alleged perpetrators for non-violent crimes was “unnecessary and brutal.” Two of the alleged thieves committed suicide following the raid.
Holder defended the actions of the Justice Department during the hearing last week. He said the DOJ agents used the “appropriate amount of force” in the raid.
“The arrests that were done were felony arrests,” Holder said.
Hatch said the raid was a “dog and pony show.” The Justice Department issued a big news release and held a June 10 press conference in Utah with Ogden, Utah U.S. Attorney Brett Tolman and Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar.
“I am questioning the motives of some of the higher-ups at Justice and at Interior,” Hatch said.
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Utah’s only Democratic lawmaker in the Capitol, Rep. Jim Matheson has recommended former Utah federal prosecutor David Schwendiman to President Obama to replace U.S. Attorney Brett Tolman, Salt Lake City ABC affiliate KTVX reported last week. The decision was made “several months ago,” an aide to the member of Congress said today.
Matheson spokesperson Alyson Heyrend said Tolman, Schwendiman and about seven other candidates applied for the post, but would not confirm whether her boss picked Schwendiman earlier this year.
Schwendiman is currently serving overseas as an international prosecutor in the Special Department for War Crimes of the Prosecutor’s Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina. He has held the post since May 2006. Schwendiman was an Assistant U.S. Attorney, First Assistant U.S. Attorney and Interim U.S. Attorney when he served in the Utah office from 1987 to 1998. The highlight of Schwendiman’s time as Assistant U.S. Attorney was from 1993 to 1997, when he served as a key aide to then U.S. Attorney Scott Matheson, Rep. Matheson’s older brother. You can read his full bio here.
Utah Republican Sens. Bob Bennett and Orrin Hatch will no doubt object. They have urged Obama to keep Tolman in place. Senators traditionally recommend U.S. Attorneys to the president, but House members often make the recommendations when the senators are not in the same party as president. It is ultimately up to the president to choose a nominee.
Tolman, who has been U.S. Attorney since 2006, has recently found himself in a firestorm of controversy over the Indian artifact raid earlier this month. Utah’s senators have criticized the Justice Department for the amount of force it used to net about a dozen alleged perpetrators. Hatch said last week it was “unnecessary and brutal” to employ 100 agents with guns drawn to make arrests for non-violent crimes. Two people indicted in the raid have since committed suicide. Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff also questioned the intentions of the Justice Department in Utah before he met with Tolman to reconcile their differences.
Despite the negative fallout from the raid, Tolman will likely hold onto his post for several more months while Schwendiman is overseas, KTVX said.
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Utah’s Republican state attorney general sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder recently, slamming Utah U.S. Attorney Brett Tolman. Tolman is a Bush holdover who’s angling to keep the job he’s held since 2006. Utah Republican Sens. Bob Bennett and Orrin Hatch have urged President Obama to keep Tolman in place.
Salt Lake City CBS affiliate KUTV reported on the feud Monday. The Utah AG, Mark Shurtleff, told KUTV that he wrote Holder that Tolman was not working with state officials on law enforcement activities in the state. He told the television station that last week’s federal raid on people who allegedly took American Indian artifacts from government lands in Utah was a recent example of non-cooperation. The raid was a high-profile one for DOJ, with a big news release issued and a June 10 press conference in Utah attended by Tolman, Deputy Attorney General David Ogden, and Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar.
But now, a spokesman for Shurtleff says his relationship with Tolman is on the mend after a meeting Monday. ”They hammered out most of their differences,” Paul Murphy told Main Justice.
Shurtleff will support Tolman as he continues to serve as Utah’s top federal prosecutor, Murphy said.
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Conservatives continue to attack Attorney General Eric Holder for dropping a voter-intimidation case against two of three members of the militant Black Panthers. Read Michelle Malkin’s harummpf here.
Also chiming in today was Hans A. Von Spakovsky, the former Voting Section lawyer who was at the center of the storm over Bush-era politicization of the Civil Rights Division. Spakovsky has this piece in the Wall Street Journal. Click here to read our previous coverage of the case.
Spakovsky, you may recall, was a sidekick to the controversial former head of the Civil Rights Division, Bradley Schlozman, who caused an uproar with his partisan hiring practices. President Bush gave Spakovsky a recess appointment to the Federal Election Commission, but once the recess appointment expired, the Senate refused to confirm him.
Career Voting Section lawyers led by Joseph Rich, section chief from 1999 to 2005, wrote to Senate Rules Committee chair Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and ranking member Sen. Robert Bennett (R-Utah) alleging that Spakovsky “played a major role in the implementation of practices which injected partisan political factors into decision-making on enforcement matters and into the hiring process, and included repeated efforts to intimidate career staff.” You can find the letter here.
Spakovsky started off his article today with a few quick paragraphs about Holder’s decision to dismss a voter-intimidation lawsuit against members of the Black Panthers, then went on to spend the next six paragraphs defending the controversial Georgia voter I.D. law that Spakovsky helped bring about, but which the Holder DOJ opposed. The Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear a challenge to the law, letting it stand.
Here’s how Spakovsky concludes his article in the WSJ:
All of these decisions seriously undermine confidence in the rule of law and our election process. Under the Voting Rights Act, the Department of Justice is charged with protecting voters, no matter what their racial or ethnic background. Under the Help America Vote Act and the National Voter Registration Act, the department is also charged with securing the integrity of the voter registration process. In just the first five months of this administration Justice seems to be moving as fast as it can to defeat that charge.