Former Chairman Peter MacDonald Sentenced
WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) _ Navajo Chairman Peter MacDonald was sentenced Monday to nearly six years in a tribal jail and fined $11,000 for bribery, ethics violations and conspiracy.
His son, Peter ″Rocky″ MacDonald Jr., was given a 1 1/2 -year sentence and fined $2,500.
MacDonald, 61, who was suspended as tribal chairman last year, was convicted in tribal court Wednesday of 41 counts of bribery, conspiracy and ethics violations for taking cash, loans, plane rides and use of an car from businessmen trying to curry favor with him.
His 36-year-old son was convicted of 23 counts of bribery, theft by extortion, ethics violations and conspiracy.
Judge Robert Yazzie sentenced MacDonald to 5 years and 335 days in a tribal jail in Window Rock, the Navajo reservation’s capital. MacDonald also must do four years and 340 days of labor, similar to community service, after his jail term, and his son must serve one year of labor, Yazzie said.
MacDonald is seeking the new office of president of the nation’s biggest Indian tribe. The tribal council on Friday voted to authorize the election board to postpone the election, originally scheduled for Nov. 6, for 60 days.
He will remain in jail for at least a week until Yazzie rules if he can be released on bail or his own recognizance pending an appeal, said defense attorney Val Jolley.
″You have not admitted to any wrongding and shown no remorse,″ Yazzie said. ″I truly say you were a great leader and made valuable contributions to the Navajo people.″
MacDonald, a former aerospace engineer, showed no emotion as he stood before the court.
MacDonald’s opponent in the election is former tribal chairman Peterson Zah. Whether the conviction will remove him from the ballot, as tribal law apparently requires, won’t be known until Tuesday at the earliest, when the tribal election board meets.
The board is reviewing a proposed amendment to its code to allow interim tribal leader Leonard Haskie, who finished third to MacDonald and Zah in a non-partisan primary election, to run in MacDonald’s place.
MacDonald’s second trial was scheduled to begin Tuesday, but a judge on Monday postponed it until Nov. 27.
That case involves conspiracy charges stemming from the tribe’s purchase of a ranch for $33.4 million from a company which paid $26.2 million for the property only five minutes earlier. His son, an unemployed lawyer, is a co- defendant.
Last week, Byron ″Bud″ Brown, a Scottsdale real-estate agent who allegedly was the middleman in the ranch sale, and his brother were indicted on federal money-laundering and fraud charges in the case.
In another case, MacDonald faces 93 fraud counts stemming from the tribe’s 1986 primary and general elections. Suspended Vice Chairman Johnny R. Thompson is a co-defendant.
About 180,000 Navajos live on the 21,100-square-mile reservation, the nation’s largest. It covers a large portion of northeastern Arizona and extends into southeastern Utah and northwestern New Mexico.