Suspended Chairman Peter MacDonald and his son had planned to tell the truth to the U.S. Senate Select Committee about the Big Boquillas Ranch purchase, according to secret tapes played Friday at MacDonald's conspiracy trial.
The last of secretly recorded tapes was played Friday and had MacDonald's son, Peter "Rocky" MacDonald Jr., telling real estate broker Byron "Bud" Brown that he and his father had decided to tell the truth to the Senate committee.Brown is the reputed middleman in the ranch deal, which is at the center of the trial, the second of three tribal-court trials MacDonald faces.
MacDonald is on trial on single counts of fraud, bribery, ethics violations and conspiracy. His son faces a single conspiracy count.
On the tape, Rocky MacDonald tells Brown "At this juncture in time, before anybody else has testified other than you, it was best we thought at this point in time for us all to get together and to just tell the truth."
That portion of the Jan. 8, 1989, tape was not played during the public hearing of the Senate Select Committee in February 1989.
Rocky MacDonald had telephoned Brown and requested a telephone conference call between attorneys for the MacDonalds and Brown.
"Well, we're trying to plan out a new strategy if what we're trying to, trying to work out and that, in order for everybody to, to be okay," Rocky MacDonald told Brown.
Referring to upcoming depositions to be taken by the Senate, Rocky MacDonald said, "If you're going first, we can thwart the whole thing by you saying what really is and dad and I following in line with the rest of it. It, we didn't do anything illegal, it just looks bad. And we can deal with that."
Brown talked by phone to Rocky MacDonald later that day after Brown phoned his attorney, Melvin McDonald.
"Uh, Melvin just called me and he was upset as hell. He, he instructed me, you know, not even to talk to you guys. He was really upset, because you'd called," Brown says.
Brown testified Friday in tribal court that the conversation was the last time he spoke with the MacDonalds.
Brown also testified Friday that it was his understanding that Rocky MacDonald wanted Brown to tell "the real truth" to the Senate committee as opposed to the coverup story previously discussed in the conversations recorded and transcribed by FBI agents.
"You've got to realize that the FBI and U.S. Senate were intent on tricking the chairman into an alleged coverup," said MacDonald attorney Shannon Robinson of Albuquerque. "When it was clear that he and his son were committed to telling the truth, the FBI backed out, pulled the plug on the tapes. They didn't want to tape the chairman telling the truth."
Special Prosecutor Robert Rothstein asked Brown if he ever told the MacDonalds he was wearing recording or transmitting devices.
"You think I'm crazy?" Brown said. "The agreement my attorney made with the feds - it would have ruined that agreement."
Brown added that the agreement from the U.S. Attorney's Office in Phoenix to not prosecute him on charges involving the ranch sale was in exchange for his cooperation and truthful testimony.
Attorneys for MacDonald said Friday that they demanded all of the secretly recorded tapes of MacDonald and his son be played in the trial here, including portions deleted from a Senate Select Committee hearing in February 1989.
Special Prosecutor Robert Rothstein said all of the tapes were played in tribal court.
The FBI, the Senate Select Committee, the Attorney's General's Office in Arizona and the U.S. Attorney's Office in Phoenix were involved in the recordings of the tapes, Brown testified.