A federal grand jury has indicted former Navajo Chairman Peter MacDonald, his son and a California businessman on bribery and racketeering charges.
U.S. Attorney Linda Akers and FBI agent James Ahearn on Thursday announced the indictments, which come as MacDonald, 62, and Peter "Rocky" MacDonald Jr. appeal tribal court convictions on ethics and fraud charges.The new indictment alleges that the MacDonalds and business associate Carlos Pimentel, of Tracy, Calif., devised a scheme between October 1987 and December 1989 to take control of Navajo Technologies Inc. in Leupp.
As head of the country's largest Indian nation, the elder MacDonald used his position to get the tribe to lend the company $2.25 million, the indictment charges. The three agreed MacDonald would receive 3.2 million shares of stock, but his ownership of the joint venture would be kept secret until the completion of his term as chairman, the indictment says.
It charges MacDonald and his son took $39,000 in bribes in the scheme.
The indictment lists 14 counts of bribery of a tribal official, 10 counts of interstate travel in use of an interstate facility in aid of racketeering enterprises, four counts of wire fraud, three counts of mail fraud, two counts of conspiracy and a single count of racketeering.
A conviction on each of the conspiracy charges carries a prison term of up to 20 years and fines up to $250,000, while the other charges each carry a possible prison term of five years and fines up to $250,000.
MacDonald has an attitude toward any new charges that is a combination of "resignation and fight," one of MacDonald's attorneys, Peter Breen of Navajo Legal Aid, told the Arizona Republic. "He's almost gotten used to it."
Breen said MacDonald is confined to a home on the reservation, where he does not have a telephone.
The MacDonalds are out of jail working on appeals. The elder MacDonald also faces an election-fraud trial scheduled for Wednesday.
MacDonald was chairman from 1974 to 1982 and again was elected in November 1986 until he was removed by the tribal council Feb. 17, 1989 after testimony in a U.S. Senate corruption inquiry.