Sentencing postponed in Yurok embezzlement case

Roland RaymondMugshot photo of the drug-addled Roland Raymond

Sentencing postponed in Yurok embezzlement case at tribe’s request

By Thadeus Greenson/The Eureka Times-Standard

The federal sentencing of a former Yurok Tribe forestry director was
postponed Tuesday at the request of the tribe, which wants to file a victim
impact statement in the nearly $1 million embezzlement case.

Roland Raymond, 50, was due to be sentenced in a federal courthouse in San
Francisco. He faces a maximum of 37 months in prison after pleading guilty
to a single count of conspiring to embezzle funds from an Indian tribal
organization. The Yurok Tribe submitted a request to the court on Monday
afternoon asking to postpone the sentencing to allow it to submit the
victim impact statement and organize a delegation of the tribal council to
be present.

United States District Judge William Alsup granted the request Tuesday, and
has rescheduled Raymond’s sentencing for Nov. 15.

Yurok Tribe Executive Director Troy Fletcher said the tribe didn’t weigh in
on Raymond’s sentencing earlier because it was unaware a hearing had been
scheduled.

”We weren’t even notified of the sentencing, and didn’t find out about it
until we read about it in the Times-Standard,” Fletcher said, noting that
he found the information in an Oct. 23 article. “We feel like the U.S.
Attorney’s Office should have done more to consult with us as the victims
of the crime, which would include notification of hearings like this.”

Raymond was remanded into federal custody last week after failing a drug
test and violating the terms of his home confinement, according to court
documents.

With his guilty plea, Raymond admitted to working with a local company, Mad
River Biologists, to use an elaborate scheme of fake invoices, false
purchase requests and electronic bank transfers to embezzle more than
$870,000 in federal funds from the Yurok Tribe during a three-year period
of wildlife preservation studies. According to court documents, Raymond
stole the funds to support gambling and drug addictions.

Mad River Biologists founder Ron LeValley has also been charged with
conspiring to embezzle from an Indian tribal organization and has pleaded
not guilty. Prosecutors allege LeValley submitted the false invoices to the
tribe, accepted payments for services never rendered and then redirected
the funds back to Raymond, less a 20 percent fee taken off the top.

Free after posting a $50,000 appearance bond, LaValley is due back in court
Dec. 3 for what court records list as a “potential” change of plea hearing.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office is arguing that Raymond should be sentenced to
20 months in federal prison, saying his cooperation with federal
investigators warrants shaving 10 months from the 30-month sentence
recommended by the federal probation department. Raymond’s attorney Randall
Davis agreed with the 20-month sentence, but argued his client should be
given credit for time already served behind bars and in home confinement,
and should only serve an additional seven months in federal prison.

Fletcher said the tribal council takes Raymond’s case very seriously and
wants to see justice served, but declined to comment specifically on what
the tribe’s victim impact statement will include, saying tribal attorney
Charles Henry will probably craft a draft statement that would then be
reviewed and approved by the entire tribal council.

Link to original article HERE

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