Former Marine Protected Area Science Co-chair Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement Charge

By Dan Bacher | February 14, 2014 | On June 6, 2012, the California Fish and Game Commission adopted regulations for alleged ...


By Dan Bacher | February 14, 2014 |

On June 6, 2012, the California Fish and Game Commission adopted regulations for alleged "marine protected areas" on the North Coast, completing a controversial network of MPAs in California’s open coastal waters from Mexico to the Oregon state line created under the privately funded Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative. 

State officials and representatives of corporate "environmental" NGOs engaged in a flurry of boasting about these so-called "science-based" "Yosemites of the Sea" and "underwater parks." 

“This is a great day for California’s ocean and coastal resources,” gushed Secretary for Natural Resources John Laird, a strong supporter of the MLPA Initiative, as well as the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build the peripheral tunnels. “As promised, we have completed the nation’s first statewide open coast system of marine protected areas, strengthening California’s ongoing commitment to conserve marine life for future generations." 

The news release from the Department of Fish and Wildlife touted the network of so-called "marine protected areas" created under the MLPA Initiative as "the first in the United States to be designed from the ground up as a science-based network, rather than a patchwork of independent protected areas without specific goals and objectives." 

Unfortunately, Laird, the Department and corporate "environmentalists" failed to mention the alarming fact that Del Norte District Attorney Jon Alexander on February 23, 2012 had arrested Ron LeValley, the Co-Chair of the MLPA Initiative "Science Advisory Team" for the North Coast that created the alleged "science-based" marine protected areas,  on a $1 million warrant. The warrant accused him of burglary and embezzlement of Yurok Tribe money and conspiracy to commit a crime in collaboration with Roland Raymond, Yurok Tribe Forestry Chair. 

The District Attorney later dropped the charges to allow federal authorities to pursue the charges against Raymond and LeValley. Then the U.S. Attorney on October 11, 2013 formally charged Ron LeValley of Eureka with “conspiracy to commit embezzlement and theft from an Indian Tribal Organization" in a scheme with Roland Raymond, Yurok Tribe Forestry Director. 

On February 11, this case moved one step closer to resolution when LeValley, of Mad River Biologists, pled guilty to a single federal charge of conspiring to embezzle nearly $1 million in federal funds from the Yurok Tribe. 

Court documents reveal that LeValley conspired with Roland Raymond to embezzle the funds through a complex scheme of fake and inflated invoices and payments for spotted owl surveys that LeValley and his organization never performed. 

Matt Mais, spokesman for the Yurok Tribe, the largest Indian Tribe in California, confirmed LeValley’s guilty plea in the scheme that proceeded between 2007 and 2010. The Tribe declined comment on the case at this time. 

In January, a judge sentenced Raymond to serve 36 months in federal prison for his role in the embezzlement scheme. Raymond pleaded guilty to the single conspiracy charge. 

LeValley is scheduled for sentencing on May 20, 2014. The terms of his plea agreement had not been made public as of the afternoon of February 11, according to the North Coast Journal. 

For details on the complex embezzlement scheme, go to my article: http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2013/10/27/18745508.php


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