The former chairman of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe has agreed to plead guilty to charges he violated campaign finance laws while working with convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff to get federal recognition for the Massachusetts tribe.
The U.S. Attorney's Office said Monday that Glenn Marshall, 59, of Mashpee, agreed to plead guilty to five counts including making illegal campaign contributions to members of Congress, embezzling tribal funds, filing false tax returns and fraudulently receiving Social Security disability benefits.
The tribe, based on Cape Cod, dates back to the first Thanksgiving. It sought and received federal recognition in 2007, and has been buying land and pushing plans to build a casino.
Among other charges, investigators allege Marshall reimbursed himself and other individuals for political contributions using money dumped into the account of a defunct tribal corporation by a company hoping for a stake in any casino the tribe might build. He also was accused of misusing $380,000 for personal expenses including groceries, vacations, tuition for his daughter, restaurant tabs, home repairs and jewelry.
Marshall stepped down in 2007, after it became public he was a convicted rapist and had lied about his military past.
A call to Marshall's lawyer Robert Craven was not immediately returned.
Investigators said that in 1999 a Michigan-based company called AtMashpee LLC agreed to underwrite the tribe's efforts at federal recognition, providing millions for operating and lobbying expenses. In return, the company hoped for a stake in any future casino.
The company also helped cover legal costs, including a lawsuit the tribe filed against the Department of Interior to pressure them to act on the tribe's petition.
In 2003, frustrated by the lack of progress by lobbyists hired by the tribe, Marshall turned to Abramoff, who allegedly told them the tribe needed to make big political contributions to certain members of Congress.
A political consultant and others hired by the tribe said they preferred to be paid directly by the tribal council rather than AtMashpee. To make the payments, Marshall allegedly arranged to have AtMashpee deposit money into the account of the Mashpee Fisherman's Association, a defunct corporation on which Marshall and another officer of the tribe were signatories.
Investigators said that between 2003 and 2007, AtMashpee paid about $4 million into the account and that Marshall failed to report the funds on the tribal council's federal tax returns.
Abramoff continued to work as a lobbyist for the tribe until 2004, and after that Abramoff's associates continued to lobby Congress and the Department of Interior on behalf of the tribe, prosecutors said. Boston-based lobbyists and a public relations firm was also hired by the tribe.
Investigators said the Boston lobbyists, consulting with Abramoff's team, suggested which state and federal officials should receive contributions - and that Marshall used the Fisherman's Association's fund to make the donations.
Federal law prohibits corporations, including the tribal council, from making contributions to federal campaigns.
Investigators said Marshall used individuals including members of his family and council members as "straw contributors" - asking them to make contributions and then promising to reimburse them. Marshall also allegedly reimbursed himself for contributions.
In all, between 2003 and 2007, Marshall reimbursed straw contributors for nearly $50,000 in political donations using the fund, investigators said.
Marshall faces 5 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 for four of the charges and 20 years and a $1 million fine for the wire fraud charge.
This program aired on December 15, 2008. The audio for this program is not available.