Former Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Council chairman Glenn A. Marshall was released this week after 1,091 days of federal incarceration on charges he defrauded the tribe and the federal government.
Mr. Marshall was allowed to return to his East Falmouth home on Monday following a stint in a halfway house, the last stop in three-year a prison term that took him to a low-security facility in Pennsylvania and a medical care center in North Carolina.
He still faces probation that places several restrictions on his activity. Though his probation does not limit his involvement in the tribe, the tribal constitution requires political office holders to be free of felony convictions for the prior five years. Mr. Marshall pleaded guilty to five criminal counts, including making illegal campaign contributions, tax fraud, wire fraud, and Social Security fraud, in federal court in Boston in the spring of 2009.
His release comes at a sensitive time when the tribe is in the heat of pushing its Taunton casino plans forward with the city, state, and federal government. As was the case during much of his time as chairman, Mr. Marshall still has both ardent supporters and relentless detractors within the tribe.
Some revere Mr. Marshall for finally forcing the tribe’s application for federal recognition through the US Bureau of Indian Affairs and suggest that his crimes were either minor or done in the best interests of the tribe. The tribe obtained final federal recognition in 2007, after three decades of struggling with the BIA’s administrative process.
The campaign finance charges stem from 34 separate contributions Mr. Marshall and other tribe members made, using money from the tribe’s casino investors, to a host of federal politicians with clout in Washington, DC, and with the BIA. Another 25 contributions were made by straw contributors arranged by Mr. Marshall to state officials.
“Without him we wouldn’t have tribal recognition,” Chief Flying Eagle, Earl Mills Sr., said in an interview this week. “Glenn made a mistake but without Glenn we would not have recognition and chances are we would have never gotten it. There was no one who could have spent the 12 years to go through that arduous process.”
Glenn made a mistake but without Glenn we would not have recognition and chances are we would have never gotten it.
Chief Flying Eagle Earl Mills Sr.
Mr. Mills has been sharply critical of the current tribal council administration headed by Chairman Cedric Cromwell, who has sought since his campaign for office to split from the legacy of Mr. Marshall and his former vice chairman, Shawn W. Hendricks Sr.
There is one opinion agreed on by both Mr. Marshall’s supporters and detractors: the former chairman is smart and politically savvy.
Other tribe members, however, say he effectively stole from the tribe for personal gain and discredited the tribe on a statewide, if not national, stage. Mr. Marshall stepped down from office in August of 2007, just months after the tribe’s recognition, following his acknowledgment that he lied about his military career and did not disclose a criminal history from the 1980s.
According to the federal complaint to which Mr. Marshall pleaded guilty, he spent approximately $380,000 in four years on personal expenses such as groceries, vacations, tuition payments for a family member, restaurant tabs, home repairs, mortgage payments, and jewelry, according to the federal charges.
His detractors say many of their peers who maintain support for Mr. Marshall were either given favors by the former chairman or were members of the staff or administration during his reign.
According to court documents, he used money from the tribe’s first casino investors to pay out regular stipends of up to $2,000 to “certain favored members” of the tribe, as well as providing additional financial assistance to other members.
Mr. Marshall could not be reached for comment this week.
To recoup the stolen money, the tribal council has filed a civil suit in tribal court against Mr. Marshall, Mr. Hendricks, and former tribal council secretary Desire Hendricks Moreno.
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The suit seeks restitution of approximately $1 million that was channeled through the Mashpee Fisherman’s Association, a business formed by Mr. Marshall and others, and not disclosed to the tribal council. The money was loaned to the tribe by investors and it was expected to be paid back if and when a tribal casino was built, according to information provided by tribal officials.
The investors deposited a total of $4 million in the account, which was also used to pay for professional services related to the tribe’s pursuit of recognition, like lawyers, lobbyists, and historians who prepared the substance of the application.
The suit, which was filed in January, is still in the preliminary stages in tribal court.
According to his probation guidelines, Mr. Marshall was already required to repay the tribal council $383,009.62.
The tribal council is first on the repayment schedule, but he also owes the Social Security Administration $84,603, as a result of charges that he collected disability payments while working a full-time job.
Under the terms of his release, he is also scheduled to sort out his tax liability and pay back taxes due to the US Internal Revenue Service, an amount the IRS estimated to be $90,965.
Until he pays back the tribe and the two agencies, he faces detailed restrictions on what he is allowed to spend money on.
His 41-month sentence was set at the low end of the possible range under the charges, and without more than $1 million in additional fines, in part because he cooperated with federal investigators. His sentence could have been reduced further if Mr. Marshall provided “substantial assistance” in the investigation or prosecution of another criminal. No one else was charged in connection to the case.
The US Bureau of Prisons also reduced his sentenced to 36 months based on good behavior while incarcerated.