Former Wampanoag Tribal Council chairman faces 5 criminal counts
By James Kinsella
Glenn A. Marshall, the former chairman of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, has pleaded guilty to violations of campaign finance law, along with tax, wire fraud and Social Security fraud in connection with efforts to gain federal recognition for the tribe.
Marshall signed the plea agreement Thursday. Charges were filed against him Monday in U.S. District Court in Boston.
The former leader of the tribe, which achieved its long-sought federal recognition during his tenure, admitted to illegally steering campaign contributions to federal legislators; filing false tax returns on behalf of himself and the tribe; and fraudulently receiving Social Security disability benefits.
Marshall, 59, also used about $380,000 in money provided by a Detroit company backing the tribe's drive for federal recognition for personal expenses, including groceries, vacations and jewelry.
He was charged Monday in federal court in a five-count information — a written accusation of charges by the U.S. Attorney's Office — in which he is alleged to have made illegal campaign contributions to members of Congress on behalf of the tribe, embezzled funds from the tribe, filed false tax returns for himself and the tribe and fraudulently received Social Security disability benefits.
To atone for his crimes, Marshall has reached an agreement with the U.S. Attorney's Office to do at least 57 months, or nearly five years, in prison and pay restitution in the amount of $467,612.12.
The office reached the sentencing agreement with Marshall in return for guilty pleas on five criminal counts.
The office will recommend imprisonment and a fine at the low end of the applicable range; that he forfeit assets acquired through his criminal activity; a mandatory special assessment of $100 on each count; and a 3-year period of supervised release.
Marshall is facing a maximum charge of 5 years' imprisonment, to be followed by 3 years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000, on each count, except on the charge of wire fraud, which carries a 20-year maximum sentence and a $1 million fine.
The former tribal council chairman resigned his post last year after revelations that he had lied about his military record and had been convicted of rape.
Paula Peters reacts to news of charges
Paula Peters of Mashpee, a tribal member whose 2004 candidacy for tribal council chairman was derailed by a last-minute maneuver by Marshall, said, "It is a sad day for the tribe, but it is a jumping-off point for tribal integrity to be restored."
Going forward, Peters said Monday, it's crucial for the tribal leadership to be unimpeachable.
"We cannot have this kind of corrupt atmosphere," she said.
Committed offenses as chairman of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Council
The information alleges that Marshall committed the offenses in connection with his service from 2001 to 2007 as chairman of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Council, the tribe's governing body.
During his tenure, the government alleges, Marshall led the tribe's effort to become officially recognized by the federal government, which would qualify the tribe for an array of federal program benefits, and render it eligible under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act to build a casino on its lands.
Beginning in 1999, according to the government, a Detroit, Mich.-basedinvestment firm called AtMashpee LLC, provided the tribe millions ofdollars for its operations and for legal, lobbying, and otherprofessional services, in exchange for an equity stake in any casinothe tribe might ultimately build.
Beginning in 1999, according to the government, a Detroit, Mich.-based investment firm called AtMashpee LLC, provided the tribe millions of dollars for its operations and for legal, lobbying, and other professional services, in exchange for an equity stake in any casino the tribe might ultimately build.
Among other services, according to the information, the tribe's attorneys filed a lawsuit against the Department of the Interior to force department to act on the tribe's recognition petition, which the tribe claimed had been unduly delayed.
The tribe also hired lobbyists to make the tribe's case before members of Congress and their staffs in the hope that they would encourage the department to act favorably on the petition.
Unhappy with the apparent lack of progress by those lobbyists, Marshall got in touch with lobbyist Jack Abramhoff, who said he wanted to be paid directly by the tribe rather than by AtMashpee LLC.
Marshall got in touch with lobbyist Jack Abramhoff
Marshall, according to the information, had AtMashpee LLC steer about $4 million into the Mashpee Fisherman's Association, a defunct corporation to which Marshall was a signatory, money then used by the tribal council for lobbying and legal services. According to the government, Marshall omitted the information from the tribe's tax returns.
Abramoff and other consultants further recommended that contributions be made to state and federal legislators to advance the tribe's case.
Marshall, the information states, was aware that federal law prohibited corporations, including the tribal council, from making contributions to federal campaigns.
In order to circumvent Federal election laws Marshall solicited various individuals to act as straw contributors,including members of his family and officers of the tribal council.
To disguise that the tribal council was making contributions to federal campaigns, the information alleges, Marshall solicited various individuals to act as straw contributors, including members of his family and officers of the tribal council.
According to the information, Marshall asked the straw contributor to write a check to a candidate's reelection committee, insisting that the contribution was necessary to further the tribe's recognition effort and promising the straw contributor that the tribal council would reimburse him or her for the contribution. Marshall allegedly also made straw contributions.
The government further alleges that Marshall caused the tribal council, through payments from the Fisherman's Association account, to reimburse straw contributors a total of $49,950 in federal campaign contributions, and another $10,550 in straw contributions to elected state officials.
The government further states that Marshall deliberately underreported the amount of income taken in by the tribe on its tax returns, which he was responsible for organizing and filing.
In 2006, Marshall submitted a tribal tax return that reported tribe income of $819,611 for tax year 2004, which didn't include $704,085 in payments from AtMashpee LLC that were deposited in the Fisherman's Account.
The government also states that Marshall used about $380,000 in funds in the Fisherman's Association account for personal expenses.
He allegedly spent the money on personal expenses as groceries, vacation trips, tuition payments for his daughter, restaurant tabs, home repairs, home mortgage payments and jewelry. He also paid out regular stipends of $2,000 to certain favored members of the tribe, and provided assistance to others. According to the information, Marshall willfully failed to report these expenses as personal income on his tax returns.
In April 2004, Marshall filed a tax return for tax year 2003 in which he reported a total income of $41, notwithstanding the approximately $40,000 he had been paid in that year as tribal council chairman or the value of personal items he he purchased with money from the Fisherman's Account.
Marshall got disability payments while working fullitime at tribal council
Marshall also continued to collect Social Security disability payments while working full-time for the tribal council.
In May 1988, according to the information, Marshall filed an application for the Social Security payments, claiming he could not work because of a disability. He agreed to notify the Social Security administration if he returned to work, an event which would disqualify him from future benefits.
After he began receiving disability payments on a monthly basis, he filed a report of continuing disability with the federal agency, stating that he had not worked and did not foresee returning to work.
When he began working as chairman of the tribal council, a full-time job that paid about $40,000 a year, Marshall did not notify the Social Security Administration. Instead, from 2003 to 2007, he continued to collect disability benefits, which came to about $10,000 a year.
If convicted of the charges he faces, Marshall faces up to 5 years imprisonment, to be followed by 3 years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000, on each count, except on the charge of wire fraud, which carries a 20-year maximum sentence and a $1 million fine.
Paula Peters said she isn't a candidate in the tribal elections, scheduled for Feb. 8, though her husband, Mark Harding, is running for treasurer.
"This will be a critical opportunity to elect some fiscally responsible candidates to office," Peters said.
Peters — whose father, the late Russell Peters, led the tribe's initial quest to regain its historic lands in Mashpee and for federal recognition — said that "this is a critical time for us in the development of our sovereign nation and its economic development inititiatives."
"Going forward, we have a big opportunity to repair whatever damage has been done," she said.
According to the plea agreement worked out with Marshall by the U.S. Attorney's Office — contained in a letter dated Nov. 24 and addressed to Marshall's attorney, Robert E. Craven of Providence — Marshall, "at the earliest practicable date… shall plead guilty to all counts in which he is named in the above-mentioned information. Defendant expressly and unequivocally admits that he committed the crimes charged, did so knowingly, intentionally or willfully, and is fact is guilty of those offenses."