Home > crime > CHARGED BIOLOGISTS: Guilty as hell or majorly framed

CHARGED BIOLOGISTS: Guilty as hell or majorly framed

[Featured comment by Omnomnonimous]

I’m really surprised that none of the local blogs are paying all that much attention to the Yurok embezzlement case. I thought for sure this week’s North Coast Journal would dive in but they didn’t even mention it …

Aside from the fact that it’s a huge amount of money and there are some astonishing allegations against respected members of the community, there are a few other huge elements to the case that I’ve barely seen discussed if at all.

1) Former tribal employee Roland Raymond was clearly at the center of the whole thing and is still on the run. LeValley and McAllister both immediately turned themselves in.

2) Last weekend the Sacramento Bee did a long and comprehensive article about Del Norte DA Jon Alexander. It does not paint a pretty picture and could almost be viewed as a hit piece. Anybody who for whatever reason doesn’t like any of the three people at the center of the embezzlement scandal might think it was a hit piece timed to discredit the DA, but to me it looks like a detailed enough story that there’s no way it was thrown together so quickly. Somebody had probably already been working on it for a while and the timing was coincidental – unless for some reason they’d been sitting on it waiting for the right time to bury him?

3) LeValley was (or still is?) co-chair of the science advisory team (SAT) for the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative (MPLAI), which is pretty controversial and has some very vocal opponents, mostly commercial and sport fishermen. At one point there was at least a contingent of the Yurok who were very vocally opposed too, although they may have gotten concessions they were demanding so it’s not clear to me what their position is currently.

4) Two very vocal opponents of the MPLA are David Gurney and Dan Bacher. Gurney publishes the Noyo News blog and has seized every opportunity to lambast the entire MPLA process and Ron LeValley personally. He passes himself off as a citizen journalist and is not actually a very bad writer, although he laces his material with just enough inflammatory invective to make it difficult to see anything but a blatant bias. He claims alliance with the enviro community and paints it as a corrupt exercise in corporate greenwashing but it’s not at all clear to me whether that’s true. I haven’t paid that much attention to MPLA – I knew it was controversial but are even half of his allegations about it accurate? Very hard to tell since I don’t see anything coming from the enviro community to substantiate such claims. Virtually everything negative you can find regarding LeValley was written by either Gurney or Bacher.

5) Gurney makes a big deal about the blue whale that was killed off the Mendo coast a couple years ago after evidently being hit by a vessel that was under contract to NOAA doing surveys for the MPLA. He accuses LeValley of masterminding a coverup in that case.

6) The Noyo News notwithstanding, Mad River Biologists has long represented the standard for scientific consultancy in this region and LeValley and McAllister have a lot of people in their corner. According to the Times-Standard this morning, over 30 people showed up at the Del Norte courthouse yesterday for their bail review hearing yesterday, and the judge received more than 65 letters of support.

7) Details from the case show that the allegedly false invoices at the center of the case appear to be forgeries or otherwise inconsistent with the standard invoices issued by Mad River Biologists, and they were all hand delivered to accounts payable by Roland Raymond, with a request that the checks be cut immediately and given to him for delivery.

8) The paper trail after that appears to involve both LeValley and McAllister and that is where the story really makes the brow wrinkle for anybody who doesn’t want to believe they could actually be guilty, but so much of the story up to that point makes it clear that Raymond was out of control that you have to wonder if maybe he somehow managed to establish false accounts in the names of these other guys or something?

I hope this is one of the biggest cases of the year – and by that I just mean I hope we don’t have a lot more drama to come. Even if we do though, this should still be a big one…shouldn’t it? There’s a helluva lot of money involved and the reputations of two of the most prominent people in one of the most important fields locally are either guilty as hell or else the victims of one of the most amazing frame jobs imaginable. There could well be reason to call into question the credibility of the DA trying the case. The tribe against which the crime was committed has had a very public row over a different issue with the people they now accuse of ripping them off. Anybody familiar with standard accounting practices has to ask how in the hell so many red flags could have been ignored for such a long time to begin with.

I don’t know either LeValley or McAllister but I really hope it turns out that Raymond is just a really creative scammer with both drug and gambling problems, and these two guys just got dragged into his vortex as sometimes does happen. But I’ve read the entire search warrant affidavit and if everything in it is accurate then it does not look good for them. Then again, if you can believe everything said about the DA, and if you might be inclined to believe even the tribe isn’t above a bit of chicanery where they might possibly have a conflict of interest, who the hell knows?

Either way, I’m very curious and want to know more. I’m very interested in the opinions of people who have known and worked with Mad River Biologists as well as the Yurok tribe. I’d like to see this thread gets a lot more attention and discussion in the weeks to come.

  1. Mitch
    March 3, 2012 at 6:56 am

    Innocent until proven guilty.

    Beyond that, people are entitled to have their long term behavior and reputation weighed before a community starts to gossip about them.

  2. Anonymous
    March 3, 2012 at 8:00 am

    Priceless, coming from the most prolific Humco blogger.

  3. Owlboy
    March 3, 2012 at 8:35 am

    Ya, when its one of yours Mitch. LaValle has been dirty for 30 years as a scientist. Why not be an thief. Messed with the wrong people, the tribe will not forget.

  4. just know
    March 3, 2012 at 8:44 am

    Lots of people dont know the specifics of this case. Look at last Sat paper for the search warrant. How do you not notice 3 years of 1099 IRS forms? Taxes on 877K? As for Sean, his role is questionable. but Ron is not the cleanest person out there.

  5. anon
    March 3, 2012 at 8:45 am

    I heard Sean doesn’t have his degree and Ron put it down as an earned degree on grants and contract bids? Is that considered honest?

  6. Anonymous
    March 3, 2012 at 8:48 am

    I like netflix. How ’bout u anon?

  7. anon
    March 3, 2012 at 8:53 am

    this is going to be popcorn worthy

  8. March 3, 2012 at 8:53 am

    When I put this a comment in Quicknotes I didn’t expect it to end up as a post on the main page, but here it is. Either way, I certainly did not intend to simply get a gossip thread going. This case has major implications for both the bio community and the tribe. The accusations levied against LeValley and McAllister are so wildly inconsistent with their reputations that I was left with some serious cognitive dissonance after reading the search warrant affidavit.

    A couple of my points should more properly have been framed as questions, such as:

    Who the heck are these Gurney and Bacher guys, and do they or their accusations about LeValley regarding MPLA have any merit whatsoever?

    Is there really any controversy regarding that blue whale two years ago?

    Does there exist a feeling within the enviro community that MPLA is just corrupt corporate greenwashing or are Gurney and Bacher full of it?

    Do the Yurok have a beef with MPLA, or did they but it was resolved? Was any beef that did exist the tribe generally or just a small faction? Does any current or former beef with MPLA color the Yurok’s relationship with LeValley?

    Did someone else within the Yurok administration bear some responsibility for never paying attention to the hundreds of thousands of dollars that were being paid out for work that was supposedly never done? Could perhaps someone else even be culpable?

    Can it be proven that the allegedly false invoices from Mad River Biologists actually originated from LeValley or McAllister, or did Raymond produce them himself?

    Was the timing of the Sac Bee article on Del Norte DA Jon Alexander a pure coincidence or could there possibly be some relationship to this story? For that matter, could it be true that Alexander has anything to do with the accusations against his predecessor, under whom he worked and against whom he won the office in the most recent election?

    I know the case has to be tried in the courtroom and not in the media or on the blogs, but the fact that the DA is under a cloud certainly raises the stakes behind these questions. There are already so many details made public that these unanswered questions have significant implications, again, not just for the reputations of the accused but for the entire industry they represent, as well as the Yurok and other tribes and organizations that employ that industry.

    Ultimately I’m not comfortable leaving it to the Del Norte DA and our crappy local newspapers to tell us the whole story. At the very least I’d like to make sure the media knows what the questions are.

  9. March 3, 2012 at 8:57 am

    Dang it.

    The question about the three years of IRS returns is very relevant.

    The unsubstantiated declarations that “Ron is not the cleanest” or that “Sean doesn’t have his degree” are exactly the kind of gossipy bullshit that Mitch proactively tried to knock down. Not helpful at all. I guess it’s asking too much that we could discuss this intelligently without all that.

  10. Two thumbs down
    March 3, 2012 at 9:00 am

    it was long known the DA was an old meth addict, check out times standard articles after the guy ate the other guy in Requa.

  11. anon
    March 3, 2012 at 9:02 am

    Are you saying falsifying someones education in order to get contracts is not relevant? It is.

  12. Anonymous
    March 3, 2012 at 9:04 am

    “Either way, I certainly did not intend to simply get a gossip thread going.”

    Are you kidding me? That’s all these threads are – gossip.

  13. Scientology
    March 3, 2012 at 9:11 am

    Whats sad is that these funds came out of the general fund. They REALLY hurt the tribe.

    Think about it the land that the Yuroks have that can be called for owls is sooo small that it would be a three year contract not to exceed 150-200K AT the MOST. Therefore either they were in cohoots or they have extremely bad bookkeeping and order in their house.

    Both scenarios are bad since it leads me to question many items since a reputable scientist should be organized and able to validate with redundancy, data or items that are questioned. Hope they can do that.

  14. Scientology
    March 3, 2012 at 9:17 am

    The real question is where the hell is Raymond!!!!

  15. March 3, 2012 at 9:18 am

    Everyone should read the affidavit if there is to be an informed discussion:


  16. Scientology
    March 3, 2012 at 9:22 am

    Question: Why would Ron write a check out to Raymond? Was this a way for him to call out a paper trail leading to raymond? A cry for help if caught or just plain stupidity?

    Dont the banks have videos of those dates when they cashed the checks? If so a video clip of Raymond forging would resolve everything, but, if not it doesnt look good for the others.

  17. Crox
    March 3, 2012 at 9:23 am

    The logic of thinking that Levalley and Sean are innocent since the Del Norte DA is a recovered meth addict escapes me. Certainly if the feds become involved the issue of the character or motivation of the DA will not seem as important as it is now.

    The paper and cash trail to and from Mad River Biologists is a bit too strong for anyone to ignore no matter what their past addictions may be.

    Sad that this will be used by anyone wanting to degrade the work of all biologists and environmentalists.

  18. Scientology
  19. March 3, 2012 at 9:38 am

    Crox, the fact that I have questions about the DA is perceived as assuming the biologists must be innocent saddens me. It’s not just that he’s a recovering (not recovered) meth addict isn’t the most troubling thing. He’s been accused of basically selling positions within his department for cash payments. If you read the Sac Bee article, he’s under a pretty dark cloud for a number of reasons that might call into question his credibility. Compare this to the 65 letters of support that were submitted to the court in support of LeValley’s character, versus the smattering of mostly anonymous claims that he’s somehow dirty.

    You are correct though that what it really does come down to is the paper trail. I hope as Highboldtage suggests, everybody reads the affidavit. If it can be shown beyond a shadow of a doubt that LeValley and McAllister really did create those invoices, cash those checks, and then pass kickback payments back to Raymond, well then we’re done here.

    I’m just struggling with it because the sheer stupidity of such actions seems impossible for two individuals held in such high esteem by a pretty intelligent group of people in a field based on intellect and integrity.

    What I am trying to do here is separate out what can be established as fact from some of the baseless bullshit that’s being tossed around, while at the same time trying to objectively evaluate what if any impact some of the baseless bullshit is having on the nature of the case. Given the prominence of the people involved and how this might have a continuing impact on an entire profession it seems like a discussion worth having. It is, as you say, sad that this will be used by some to degrade the work of all biologists and environmentalists, but that’s exactly what we see happening already, which is why I think it’s important to have an open discussion that accounts for as many details as we can.

  20. Giggles
    March 3, 2012 at 9:42 am

    I read the entire affidavit at http://extras.times-standard.com/multimedia/pdfs/YurokSWsandRameysPC.pdf two times and there is nothing in there which is a laughing matter.

    The investigator in the case is not the Del Norte DA. I used to work for a lawyer in a major city and out of all the embezzlement cases that went through our office, I don’t remember any defendants who were found “innocent.”

    The amount of proof needed to get a warrant in these cases is enormous and the burden of proof is on the investigator before he/she can even get the warrant.

    I suspect that there’s more to this story. I know there are agency people steering business to Mad River Biologists; that’s not entirely cricket either.

    Smart clients will get new bird studies done, however, because even the allegations call the quality of previous work into question.

    I think here you have people who may very well be lovely individuals especially to their friends and family – caught up in something that they didn’t think out very well at the start. Then again, how many times have we heard some murderer’s next door neighbor say “But he was such a nice person!”

    The courts alone will decide. And yes, until then, it is “Innocent until found Guilty.”

  21. March 3, 2012 at 9:52 am

    I don’t see any generalized problem for biologists. The wider problem of this case is that IF the mad river biologists are guilty, the method of the alleged fraud involves environmental studies that were faked. Mad River Biologists has done work for Humboldt County, Mendocino County, Arcata, the Coastal Commission and several state and local agencies as well as Shell Wind Energy’s Bear River Ridge project. A guilty verdict will throw all of this work into question. Was it fake or real?

    Just because there is a cloud over the Del Norte DA does not automatically mean that one of his investigators is corrupt or incompetent.

    Who is the CPA who does the books for Mad River Biologists? Don’t they bear some responsibility?

    Are North Valley Bank, Coast Central Credit Union and US Bank complicit in money laundering?

    have a peaceful day,

  22. Giggles is right
    March 3, 2012 at 10:06 am

    Interesting to say that Giggles. Has anyone looked into that ALL the snowy plover and ALl the marbled murrellet work to be certified to survey for these species is funneled to MRB. Funny that OR, CA agencies send all there folks to these guys. A NGO would be better off than a FOR-profit business. Suspicious? or good business direction?

  23. Crox
    March 3, 2012 at 10:23 am

    In November 2011, both the Mad River Biologists office and Ron LeValley were unable to produce copies of invoices that were requested by the Executive Director of the Yurok Tribe (with an investigator present during the phone calls). The MRB office said that some of the work was done from LeValley’s home (!?) and LeValley was unable to produce the invoices and suggested contacting Raymond.

    What sort of business would get such calls and not want to immediately determine why they had no record of the invoices, why a client was requesting copies of apparently nonexistent invoices, and why their own bookkeeping was in such disarray that apparently some documents were only on someone’s home computer? That disarray may be the MRB’s only defense as to why they appeared to be unaware that the 1099 IRS forms they received in 2008-2010 reflected the amounts on both “true and false invoices”.

  24. Goldie
    March 3, 2012 at 10:32 am

    About this case I can not say but in these time of down sizing,layoffs, and financial stress we have a stage that is ripe with the conditions that allow for embezzlement. You will always hear how trustworthy the person is for without that illusion the embezzler would not have access to the funds.
    Conditions that provide the opportunity for embezzlement:
    -Inadequate or inexperienced staffing in the accounting dept.
    -Weak Subordinate personnel
    -Use of many banks
    -Frequent change of auditors or legal counsel
    I would fear for the funds and integrity of the city of Eureka except for the fact that our manager is a very trustworthy fellow who loves his job so much that he rarely takes a prolonged vacation.

  25. March 3, 2012 at 10:38 am

    Be careful Goldie they say everyone needs irony but too much irony is bad for your health :)

    have a peaceful day,

  26. Goldie
    March 3, 2012 at 10:52 am

    Thanks Bill. I would not wish to rust.
    I do find it unusual for three people to be involved in an embezzlement case. I hope there is more information coming out about this and that it is covered by our local reporters. All organizations need to be mindful and keep financial safe guards in place. Shutting the barn door after the cows have escaped is too little too late.

  27. suomynona
    March 3, 2012 at 11:00 am

    Nice shot, Goldie 10:32. Someone holding pursestrings who never takes a day off is another red flag for fiduciary shenanigans.

  28. 713
    March 3, 2012 at 11:12 am

    I too am having trouble believing this, all of the evidence in the search warrant indicates a crime, but when you look at who these people are, it doesn’t make sense and I don’t want to believe it. That said, the transfers to a personal account and cashing of checks, a separate set of invoices from home…I can’t think of any legitimate reasons for those actions.

    Cognitive dissonance indeed.

  29. March 3, 2012 at 11:41 am

    If the journalists in our area, would have covered
    the story of the Blue Whale, the loss
    of coastal wildlife habitat, the loss of coastal wetlands-
    and dune erosion-
    Mr. LeValley would have been interrupted-
    years ago.

    When the local science community turned its back on our
    local coastal,
    native natural-progression conifers and let them die-
    the jig was up- these are phonies!

  30. just middle class
    March 3, 2012 at 11:50 am

    Unfortunately it people who are held in “high esteem” that are the ones who can get away with embezzlement. Proving your case is difficult is you do not have direct evidence, that is seen with the hand in the pot. Being a victim of embezzlement, I can tell you that it is difficult to prove, but it can be done if you have a paper trail and evidence of cash flow. The other thing is if the person can show how they received the funds that they deposited in their accounts. If the checks were written to them and there is no evidence to show that the deposits were based on documented work, then there are issues. Our embezzler was a nine year employee whom we trusted. It is difficult to explain the scope of this crime with that significant amount of money moving out of an agency without notice. It brings into question the level of controls in the agency and just how much money was available in the accounts.

  31. owler
    March 3, 2012 at 12:26 pm

    the # of checks Sean cashed totaling around 244K in the affidavit is astounding!

    Supposing Sean is in charge of operations, right? Therefore Sean would know how much work, the hours an employee needed to do to conduct the work, the # of call stations etc. So based off the total acreage of Yurok land, the # of call points required to survey ALL the yuroks ownership, it is IMPOSSIBLE that 244K is needed for visits, reports and all the tid bits needed to run that contract.

    Wouldn’t Sean catch up/ on to this right away? Maybe too busy, maybe bad bookkeeping, maybe…..

    I bet you if you check Green diamonds, Hoopa, USFS, or SPI cost for the same acreage you’ll be surprised tat the discrepancy.

  32. March 3, 2012 at 1:06 pm

    Calling an ” News Article” a “Comment” doesn’t change it.
    All this anonymity on blogs has done is create a lot of pseudo-journalism that can’t be trusted; even when it’s accurate.

  33. March 3, 2012 at 2:18 pm

    “All this anonymity on blogs has done is create a lot of pseudo-journalism that can’t be trusted; even when it’s accurate.” 1.06

    Even when it’s accurate?
    Hell, that beats what journalism we have.

  34. March 3, 2012 at 2:44 pm

    Glad to see a *thoughtful* blog on the LeValley-S.McAllister case! The Times-Standard’s reporting was responsible too, but those other vindictive blogs …! As a colleague of Ron’s (though from Alaska, not the North Coast), I wish everybody would withhold judgement until the justice system works through it.

    And I’ll even sign my real name.

  35. C Darrow
    March 3, 2012 at 3:18 pm

    “I wish everybody would withhold judgement until the justice system works through it.”2:44

    While waiting for the legal system to pass “judgement” please remember that this is a comment thread where people should feel free to express their opinions or provide other commentary on the facts at hand. Also good to remember that the “justice system” has a spotty record when dealing with white-collar crime so that even after it “works through” this case there may be no real resolution or revelation of all of the facts. Acting as if public opinion should defer to the legal system is being a bit naive.

  36. SNaFU
    March 3, 2012 at 3:32 pm

    This is peanuts & popcorn from what both parties in DC have been doing to us for years with our money.

  37. seriously
    March 3, 2012 at 4:21 pm

    @3:32 But for a tribe, its different

  38. Eric Kirk
    March 3, 2012 at 4:33 pm

    Even when it’s accurate?
    Hell, that beats what journalism we have.

    “All propaganda is lies. Even when it’s the truth.”

    -George Orwell

  39. March 3, 2012 at 5:15 pm

    I’m sorry, I just don’t get all this “skull & crossbones” stuff. The guy/girl wrote a good article. Just own the damn thing.

    Good one Eric, but I thought it was: “All propaganda lies; even when it’s telling the truth.”

  40. Ken Lay
    March 3, 2012 at 6:16 pm

    I’ve always thought, if I were going to defraud or embezzle, it had better be for big bucks. Why risk everything for chump change?

  41. Terry DeLlamas
    March 3, 2012 at 6:39 pm

    Thank you for the discussion. I have been a little obsessed with this case. If the bank accounts were actually Ron’s and his Sean’s (son of Ron’s longtime partner) I can’t think of any plausible defense for the two.

    The MLPA initiative is a case of privately funded green-washing, a total debacle. Regardless of how inflammatory the Noyo News is, they have a valid point. The Blue Whale killing incident showed a major character flaw of lying thru one’s teeth in the alleged embezzlement defendant LeValley ( who went on to co-chair the corrupt MLPA initiative).

    One of the tragic outcomes of this debacle in my opinion is the shadow of doubt this casts on all the hard work of biologists that really do care for the planet. And yes habitat restrictions are a pain, but so is all the damage done by humans.

  42. Dan
    March 3, 2012 at 6:51 pm

    Well said. 6.39

  43. March 3, 2012 at 7:00 pm

    Eric Kirk says:
    March 3, 2012 at 4:33 pm
    Even when it’s accurate?
    Hell, that beats what journalism we have.

    “All propaganda is lies. Even when it’s the truth.”

    -George Orwell

    Let us not confuse propaganda with journalism.

  44. WHAT
    March 3, 2012 at 7:19 pm

    Just read the affidavit. Wow, just as the articles main headline states, either guilty (and super bad criminals) or majorly framed. However remember the guy from piersons/ crabs coach, and the Humboldt dairy guy. everyone in the beginning said “oh not him”. The same is going on with Ron and Sean. I would be in the same band wagon as them. But the evidence (only released) is pretty convincing that there is doubt. Sorry going to ride the fence on this one. That affidavit is too strong to dismiss entirely.

    As for framing someone on this, wouldn’t someone at the bank need to be in on this? Also the 900 thousand in 1099, holy carp fish, that is a lot to pay on taxes. Seriously, no one noticed that on the books!! Who is their bookkeeper or CPA? I dont wont to hire that person.

  45. JJ
    March 3, 2012 at 10:29 pm

    I keep hoping they were framed, with faked bank accounts and all. But, the 1099s in 2008, 2009 and 2010 could not have been missed. They’re great biologists, but not great businessmen. A small 1099 discrepancy could have been overlooked, and if it was 2011, well, they’re still in the pile. But it wasn’t small, and that was 3 years of taxes paid.

    Whats up with the personal checks from LeValley to Raymond. Don’t we all know to pay kickbacks in cash? If I’ve learned anything from Hollywood, it’s use cash for shading dealings.

  46. unanonymous
    March 4, 2012 at 6:04 am

    the larger implication for the biological community is that it is a profession that self-certifies competence and there is no law or State Board that would stop these guys from practicing biology again if convicted. other liscensed professions would be banned from their profession if convicted of felony, especially against a consumer.

    biologist are routinely making recommendations that potentially affect public safety and public cost. biologists should require liscensing by state as it does for other science professions that affect publc welfare.

  47. Gil Yule
    March 4, 2012 at 7:49 am

    In my admittedly limited experience with the scientific community and scientists in general is that they are not the sorts who are drawn to the field for the money. They do it because of their enjoyment of science and the scientific method. “Doing it for the money” is more the motivation for the business world. Embezzling money (and doing it so poorly) hardly seems in keeping with what I think I know.

    I hope what I think I know is correct and will wait until the courts sort this out for my final judgement.

  48. Please
    March 4, 2012 at 8:46 am

    Oh Gil, If you only knew the monopoly Mad River Folks had. All, and I mean ALL BLM, USFS, CA state Parks, and National parks, from the area and many folks from Oregon and private timberlands and firms need to go to their training course to be certified to survey for marbeled murrelets and plovers. MRB have some strange bedfellows in the USFWS and CA state park system which would be interesting to look into.

    With that said, if you are an accomplished scientist, you have published peer-reviewed articles on plover or murrelet biology, you STILL need to go through their course each year. At what 100-300 a pop? What I understand is that this is a requirment from USFWS. not sure 100%.

    Does this sound like they are not in it for the money. MRB is a FOR-PROFIT consulting firm. Its not a non-profit or NGO, its FOR-profit. How much is Ron and Sean billing themselves out at? Curious? I bet its more than a GS-13 or -14 position which requires more expertise and education.

    Yes they have contributed immensely toward conservation for selected species, but when public bids that total XX amount of dollars.

    Not including the Shell wind energy, forced training, tribal contracts and other private contracts they are into that are not reported on that website. Please refrain from saying they are merely in it for non-profit. If so, they would have 501(c)3 status and drop the consulting firm.

  49. March 4, 2012 at 9:21 am

    So I’m confused (no surprise) Is the issue about the 1099’s saying that they haven’t embezzled? If they haven’t then why is one guy “..on the run.”
    I thought this was a cut n dried case of theft. But it seems some people are making the argument that it’s not?

  50. Anonymous
    March 4, 2012 at 9:26 am

    I think the 1099 issue is that they are submitted from the tribe to the contractor as well as the IRS. So being unaware of 900 thousand is either bad accounting or in on the issue/ ploy. thats my interpretation.

  51. unanonymous
    March 4, 2012 at 10:30 am

    the difference between 1099 and total invoice amount would be embezeled amount Or amount not reported by tribe to feds as paid to consultants.

  52. David Gurney
    March 4, 2012 at 10:53 am

    The Del Norte DA Jon Alexander made a pretty big blunder by not being assured he could arrest the prime suspect in this alleged criminal conspiracy. Instead he rounded up the subordinates first.

  53. double dutch
    March 4, 2012 at 11:02 am

    Not subordinates, co-conspirators, if the affidavit’s assumptions are accurate. They were splitting the take.

    And there is more to the Alexander story too, his predecessor Riese (also sketchy) may be causing some of his troubles.

  54. Anonymous
    March 4, 2012 at 11:48 am

    “Let us not confuse propaganda with journalism.”

    At the Times Standard, they are one and the same.

  55. 713
    March 4, 2012 at 11:59 am

    Notice all of the contracts are either no competition or competition but only one bid received. Strange nobody is bidding against them in these economic times.

  56. March 4, 2012 at 12:30 pm

    ‘only one bid received.’ 11.59
    North Coast Enviros run their programs as a club,
    if you are not part of the ‘club’ do not waste
    energy working-up a bid.
    CJ, Ron and the rest have pre-determined how the $$$$
    are to be distributed.

    Spoiled little brats playing with resources as
    if it were their own toys.
    Leaving deserts where once were wetlands,
    dead whales dead trees and dried-up wetlands.
    No competition, no oversight, no assessments,
    idiots restoring wetlands to Mojaves with
    stuffed-cheek glee. Oh I’am not pissed-off.

  57. Anonymous
    March 4, 2012 at 12:56 pm

    unanoynous 10:30 am
    “The Yurok Tribe has sent Mad River Biologists an IRS form 1099 at the end of each year for 2008, 2009, and 2010. The amounts on these forms represent the total amounts of suspected true and false invoices together.”
    Who ever produced the 1099’s had to be knowledgeable about the allegedly embezzled funds.

  58. 713
    March 4, 2012 at 1:22 pm

    I don’t see how the person who did the 1099’s would know anything more than the totals and the name of the company.

  59. Anonymous
    March 4, 2012 at 1:44 pm

    many of those bids are subjected to experienced personnel. Ron and Sean are very much experienced in local biology. Much of it is not that suspicious.

    However, in order to gain experience to participate or qualify for plover or murrellet biological work, you need to go through their workshop and their training. Then MRB, who have a monetary interest in the contracts, will determine whether you passed their test or not. Other species that require prior experience or workshop participation like CA red-legged frog, bat acoustic etc. are conducted by either a nonprofit organization, an agency or a university PhD expert to deem you qualified. Many who train or are in charge of the training are not actively pursuing these contracts.

    So is their a conflict of interest when the trainer for these species receives the overwhelming majority of plover contracts or murrelet work locally and regionally? That is for readers to decide. I just feel it seems a bit nepotistic to me.

  60. anon
    March 4, 2012 at 2:07 pm

    Hey omno, if you think the misrepresentation of Seans education is not valid, I beg to differ. Falsifying eduction on grants or contracts is serious and can mean that those were awarded under false pretensions. Slippery slopes……

    We call up an individuals university to see if they really earned their MBA or credentials/professional degree. It would be nice to eat my words if HSU or wherever he got his degree validates it.

  61. Omnomnonimous
    March 4, 2012 at 3:23 pm

    anon @ 2:07, what I said was that *unsubstantiated* rumors are unhelpful. If Sean’s educational qualifications have been blatantly falsified, perhaps that is relevant. Buy my own anonymity notwithstanding, for somebody who’s not willing to state their name to just throw an accusation like that out there without any citation or substantiation is nothing but bullshit. I try hard not to make any statement I can’t substantiate. The majority of what I’ve said in this thread is made up of questions or else restatement of what’s been presented as evidence as clearly as i can interpret it. Coming here and stating flat out that anybody’s credentials are basically fraudulent without making a case for that statement and while hiding behind a veil of anonymity isn’t worthy of this discussion. On this I guess I find myself in agreement with Savage/McNalley crew, even though I differ with them substantially on whether it is ever appropriate to remain anonymous at all.

  62. March 4, 2012 at 3:30 pm

    I with Omnomnonimous, if he did lie then that may be relavant if a trial occurs. Shit, I and one of many who hired these guys and its not looking good for any of us.

  63. Doodah
    March 4, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    If his credentials are fraudulent then that is relevant because it provides a motive for blackmail.

    People can be blackmailed into committing crimes.

  64. March 4, 2012 at 4:07 pm

    Interesting…but who is blackmailing who say u?

  65. March 4, 2012 at 4:08 pm

    “many of those bids are subjected to experienced personnel. Ron and Sean are very much experienced in local biology” 1.44

    Experienced personnel? BullStuff!
    Phony here and phony there, phony everywhere.
    Dead wetlands, dead whale, dead trees, loss wildlife,
    fake restoration fake marine protections.

    Career weed pullers, sacrifice trees and wetlands to keep
    their $$$$$$ coming in.
    Question is, when can we expect mitigation?

  66. Anonymous
    March 4, 2012 at 4:15 pm

    Dan (wdfd above) you are a one trick pony…and a complete whack job.

  67. Anonymous
    March 4, 2012 at 4:18 pm

    I do know that Sean is not a graduate of HSU. He did attend HSU but did not fulfill his requirements. As far as I know he has not portrayed himself as a BS or BA awardee. If he did that is not good form and frowned upon.

  68. George O'Leary
    March 4, 2012 at 4:51 pm

    “not good form and frowned upon.” Dang, 4:18, you are being awfully generous. What if your firm had bid on a project and just lost out to MRB because of their higher employee education level?

    I’m not saying if he did or didn’t or lied or not or embezzled or was framed. But ‘frowning’ just don’t quite do it for me.

  69. Doodah
    March 4, 2012 at 5:07 pm

    With the caveat that I am just speculating and everyone is innocent unless and until proven guilty.

    But suppose someone is lacking in credentials and Roland found out about it and blackmailed that person into participation in a scheme to defraud the tribe. Although fudging credentials is not the crime of the century it certainly could destroy the credibility and the lucrative business of MRB.

    Similarly, suppose MRB fudged a survey even just once, and Roland discovered it. A blackmail scenario is possible there too. Maybe the survey was fudged because they ran out of time or needed to use up some grant funding or something pretty mundane. Again not the crime of the century but enough for a blackmailer to get the hooks in. Because even one instance of a fudged survey would destroy MRB if it were made public.

    Because there is really two cases here. One against Roland that is pretty mundane employee workplace theft and diversion of tribal resources and then there is the larger alleged embezzlement with MRB. It is interesting that discovery of the smaller alleged fraud brought down the bigger alleged fraud, but that is how it happens often.

  70. March 4, 2012 at 5:47 pm

    Interesting….I see what your saying but it just doesn’t add up. The Tribe is hiring MRB, who does not lack the creditials. Sure, Sean may be stretching his qaulifications, but really no need with Ron’s resume and experience. My conspiricy theory: They colluded as a threesome but things got outa control as Roland self-destructed.

  71. Bolithio
    March 4, 2012 at 7:34 pm

    There are very few surveys that require a certification, or at least one that is derived from one particular agency. NSO surveys require hands on experience, not a class from MRB (though they are certainly a good source for gaining that experience). There is also the lengthy regulation process in-which all of your data, survey procedures, and results are evaluated by USFWS. You cant BS your way around these guys and they will immediately notice if you dont know what your talking about. No way is this about credentials.

    If they were faking surveys and collecting the money, I would be absolutely amazed. More likely, they had technitions@15 bucks an hour (or unpaid HSU interns) doing the surveys, and simply were collecting the cream. I doubt any of the data is bad. Its in the mark-up. 900K for 3 years of surveys? Sounds expensive to me.

    But to be fair, what was the extent of the study? How much land are we talking about?

  72. Grantwhore
    March 4, 2012 at 8:22 pm

    Before reading the affidavit: Guilty as hell.
    After reading the affidavit: Guilty as hell.
    This is common practice when you mix public funds with granola politics. It’s “free” money, right?

    This crap is the rule (not the exception) in the “Spirit of the North Coast”.

  73. Omnomnonimous
    March 4, 2012 at 8:26 pm

    The whole subject of the studies is completely outside my area of expertise, but one thing that has me completely puzzled is the total size of all those payments relative to what people who know more about it than I do keep saying would be reasonable for the acreage at hand.

    My main question: Would there not be a contract with a fixed dollar amount or “not to exceed” figure for servicing that work? How in the world could the tribe have just blindly cut checks for payments on invoices that totaled several times what is supposedly reasonable? And wouldn’t any checks cut have required invoices to identify specific tracts of land surveyed or some other such metric to track how the work is progressing?

    I have no idea how these contracts are normally structured but there’s a huge disconnect there that makes it difficult for me to believe Roland Raymond is the only Yurok employee who’s culpable. At the very least isn’t there incompetence bordering on malfeasance on the part of whoever was controlling those accounts?

    That is not an accusation, that is a question. I genuinely do not understand and am asking for help getting to a place where I do understand.

  74. HUUFC
    March 4, 2012 at 8:43 pm

    That million dollars is the tip of the iceberg of the federal money that disappears on the rez. Houses are built, destroyed and rebuilt, over and over. How’s the modular housing plant doing in Hoppa?

  75. Jim Martin
    March 4, 2012 at 8:55 pm

    Count me as one who will be watching this case closely.

    The OP asked a number of questions, and since I was involved in the north coast MLPA I can answer some, but not all.

    Who is Dave Gurney and Dan Bacher and are they full of it? I know them both, Dave is currently the co-chair of the Ocean Protection Coalition in Mendocino County, and Dan Bacher is a pro journalist in Sacramento, fisheries activist, and a friend of mine. Neither one is being inaccurate in their reporting, but I don’t always agree with Dave’s approach. We’ve locked horns before and he has said some unfair things about me in his blog but he later apologized.

    Is the MLPA a corrupt, green-washed program to take public access away from fishermen, tribes and people who depend on the coast for their livelihood? Absolutely, yes.

    It was/is a huge boondoggle that smelled to high heaven.

    Ron LeValley, the Blue Whale and MLPA “Science” – Ron was co-chair of the Science Advisory Team, and as such he demonstrated what can be defined as intellectual dishonesty, in my opinion. He, along with the rest of the MLPA “I-Team”, downplayed the whale strike incident, and this was particularly infuriating to the fishing community because we would have been pilloried had a commercial fishing vessel killed a blue whale. It’s serious business – whole fisheries get shut down for that. The MLPA kept rolling along and Ron said it was no big deal, an accident.

    LeValley and the other scientists were not paid for their services but there was a pattern of SAT members getting 6 and 7 figure grants to “monitor and evaluate” the new marine protected areas, after they graded and analyzed all the proposals. The SAT had all the power in the MLPA process. So these guys were getting grants later to study the marine reserves they created. Also, the funders of the MLPA are major scientific grant providers for all kinds of projects, so I imagine the MLPA Scientists thought serving on this panel would look good on the resume.

    LeValley put a lot of hours into the MLPA process and it’s interesting that the time frame covering these charges overlap neatly with Ron’s participation in the MLPA. I could speculate that the amount of unpaid time put into the MLPA might have caused some pressures, but who knows?

    LeValley of course is innocent until proven guilty. But as somebody who raises money for salmon habitat restoration, (vice President of the Salmon Restoration Assn – we do the Salmon BBQ on the 4th of July in Fort Bragg) I am very concerned that Ron LeValley was a Trustee of the Mendocino Land Trust, which we gave a large check to fund stream restoration on the Big River. He had his finger in so many pies that if it does turn out that he was guilty of these charges, a lot of good projects in the community will be tainted by association.

    Trust is such a huge issue with non-profits like SRA and we are all volunteers and are possibly more vulnerable to embezzling and theft than for-profit businesses.

    I really respect the Yurok Tribe and learned a lot from them during the MLPA process. They did have, and still have, major problems with the MLPA, based on all my discussions with their reps and members. Without the help of the tribes, the north coast fishing community would have been just as screwed as other regions. The idea that someone would steal from the Yuroks makes me sick.

    Getting back to the Mendocino Land Trust, they have a number of people on their Board or as advisors who were given positions of authority in the MLPA Regional Stakeholder Group. Bill Lemos, Robert Jamgochian, David Jenson (Trustee), and Skip Wollenburg were all on the MLPA stakeholder group, and LeValley (Trustee) was running the science of the SAT. Aside from Skip (who passed away during the process) everybody from the Mendocino Land Trust was hostile to fishing communities, proposed very large no-take zones and even no-go zones, and did not seek input from fishermen or tribes on the rules they were proposing from the get-go. Fortunately, the issue of white people telling the tribes where they could fish or not broke through the BS, and everybody supported the tribes (and thus, they were not so eager to close off large tracts of ocean).

    In the end everybody endorsed the same proposal, based in large part on the one developed by the community through grass-roots outreach. There are still a lot of bad feelings within our community about how all this went down, and that’s what the worst thing is about the MLPA: it divided a community against itself.

    Even though LeValley lives down here in Fort Bragg, I did not know him until he was appointed to the SAT in October of 2009. We had a cordial, if strained, relationship throughout the MLPA process on the north coast. I could never get him to look at the data from the 30-year old marine reserve at the Point Cabrillo Lighthouse which showed that there was less kelp, less abalone than in fished areas. The SAT said abalone and kelp were “species likely to benefit” from marine reserves, but the data from DFG showed otherwise. Not my data, theirs. We went round and round and they ignored our very real concerns.

    Back to the D.A.’s affidavit:

    “Due to the suspected thefts previously referenced, the Yurok Tribe Executive Department and Fiscal Department analyzed these services and payments for Mad River Biologists. They identified the following discrepancies and concerns: 1. They began by analyzing invoices and payments, starting in October 2009 and ending in November 2010.”

    Which is almost exactly the time-frame that LeValley was involved in the MLPA Science Advisory Team as Co-Chair of the SAT.

    Here’s the part of the affidavit where LeValley has a problem:

    “3. A Yurok Tribal check would be deposited on a given date using a deposit slip. The entire amount of the check would go into the Mad River Biologist account. On the same date of the given deposit or within a few days of the deposit, an electronic transfer would occur from the Mad River Biologist account to Ron LeValley’s personal account. On the same date of the electronic transfer, a personal check from LeValley’s account would be written out to “Roland Raymond”. This occurred 18 times. The total amount of these checks was $123,352, which made the average check to Raymond $6850.”

    I’m not the judge, and LeValley will have his day in court, but if this is proven true, then I have a problem. As a worker-bee for the Salmon BBQ, and a board member, we gave a lot of money to the Mendocino Land Trust where LeValley is an officer. A Trustee.

    There has been some speculation in this thread about how maybe Roland Raymond, still at large, may have blackmailed, or gotten ahold of Mad River Biologist’s checking account, but if the above section of the affidavit is correct, it is unlikely that Raymond could have ordered an electronic transfer from MRB to LeValley’s personal account, and then written a personal check from LeValley’s personal account to himself.

    Let’s see a show of hands from people who would not notice + or – unaccounted $125K cycling through their personal checking account in one year. Julie Packard, maybe, but not me. This is not chump change where I live.

    Wow, this has been a long post. I really needed to get this off my chest. Before we cast doubt on the good work of the Mendocino Land Trust (I raised money for them!) we should let this play out. But I’m worried about the outcome. If convected, LeValley will cast a long shadow….

  76. Jim Martin
    March 4, 2012 at 9:01 pm

    If convicted, I hope he’s convected…

  77. Anonymous
    March 4, 2012 at 9:45 pm

    “It’s serious business – whole fisheries get shut down for that.”

    Can you give an example?

  78. JJ
    March 4, 2012 at 9:45 pm

    OK. Consulting owl surveys: Yes, typically you’d have an estimate with a not to exceed cap, with a few contingencies and rates (normal contracting stuff). What happened here, was the people doing the surveys (technicians) and the lead (see initial contact in warrant) did not know about the embezzlement. Sean may have had little or no involvement with the normal Yurok owl work. The embezzlement was conducted with a secondary set of invoices, thus the weird header, the hand delivery, the non-itemized costs. There were biologists doing surveys out there, turning in real data, and MRB was charging the Tribe reasonable rates on itemized invoices.

    Oversight at the Tribal level would have been someone noticing the increased amount spent on owl surveys and asking Roland why the budget was so much higher than previous years. We can assume he had some kind of story to brush off casual inquiries. How did he mask the lack of reports and data for years? Well, being the forestry director he’d be the one in charge of making sure areas were surveyed prior to operations, and checking the reports from the field. It sounds like the money came from a federal source, which means if Roland had secured the funding independently, the Tribe wouldn’t be all that concerned. It’s his department, he’s in charge of his funding and budget. (I’ve also seen comments that this was out of the Tribe’s general fund, which means someone should have noticed sums this large, and made him justify his budget.)

    Faking surveys: The invoices for the embezzled money gave place names for where surveys were supposedly taking place. When first contacted the MRB biologist in charge of Yurok owl surveys said, they were not surveying in those areas (truth). When asked about the invoices, she couldn’t find them, meaning they weren’t in the regular system. She then directed the investigator to Ron, who was working from home. Keep in mind this is not all that odd, a professional working from home, handling way more contracts and invoices than his day to day employees who handle only specific projects.

    They probably do not have a full time office accountant, they’re just not that big. Does every employee know how to look up all the invoices? I know I don’t at my job. Do I know my contracts? Yes. But I’m not in charge of invoicing and billing. So, MRB not finding the invoices at the office: not odd (they were fake). Ron working from home: not odd, it’s the American dream. Ron not knowing about the invoices: could go either way.

    Sean’s credentials: The lack of a degree would not have mattered for this Yurok work, so blackmail on that point is unlikely. He didn’t have a degree a few years ago, I’m not sure if he has finished since. In biology your experience speaks as loud as your degree. I’d rather have someone out there with Sean’s experience than a PhD who’d never done field work. I’m not entirely sure how claiming as honorary degree works, but if I saw a resume with Sean’s experience come across my desk, I wouldn’t be too worried about the lack of a degree. In most bidding situations this can be explained quickly, “although Sean did not receive a BS, his experience speaks for itself”, then let the client decide. Summary: non-issue.

    Anyway, I’m just adding my two-cents. There are alot of questions here, so hopefully this filled in some blanks for people. Also, I’m not argueing that they’re innocent, just keeping you all from chasing down irrelevant tangents.

  79. March 4, 2012 at 9:51 pm

    Thank you Jim Martin for having the courage to share your insight, and the integrity to speak openly.

  80. Jim Martin
    March 4, 2012 at 10:09 pm

    >>“It’s serious business – whole fisheries get shut down for that.”

    Can you give an example?

    > Yep. Black cod, aka sablefish fishery with longlines and pot gear. It has been favored as an alternative to trawl gear for this high-dollar, tasty fish. There’s a lot of line in the water, way out deep, and every so often the intelligent whales get themselves entangled in this gear. Personally I think the trade-offs are unclear. Trawl gear has less cetacean impacts. Pot and longline gear has less habitat impacts on the bottom structure, and is more selective. The commercial black cod fishermen should be, and are concerned about this. They are a couple of whale incidents away from federal closure. There’s a cap on impacts.

  81. humboldtaloha@yahoo.com
    March 4, 2012 at 10:12 pm

    The Yurok tribal employees had a secrecy oath that they were required to take.

    This in fact guaranteed the silencing of subordinates who questioned any irregularities that might have been noticed in the accounting department and elsewhere. The accounts payable clerk did attach each written request from Raymond to rush payment and hand deliver the check for all of the 75 fake MRB invoices.

    Yurok editor’s comment ” Perhaps If Tribal Employees were NOT required to sign “the sworn to Secrecy” clause, this would not happen.
    The Tribe employs many dedicated and hard working individuals who are forced to walk around on eggshells for fear of “upsetting” their fickle and insecure administrators.”

    Because of this sad debacle, the tribe is attending to the business of tightening up their procedures.

  82. Grantwhore
    March 4, 2012 at 10:20 pm

    Heraldo has to offer up a “majorly framed” angle in order to even post this story.

    N’uff said.

  83. March 5, 2012 at 6:30 am


  84. March 5, 2012 at 7:13 am

    by Dan Bacher

    The California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) on February 27 announced that its “Guide to Southern California Marine Protected Areas” is now available online at http://www.dfg.ca.gov/mlpa/scmpas_list.asp#brochures.

    “New and revised marine protected areas went into effect January 1, 2012 from Pt. Conception south to the California/Mexico border,” the DFG proclaimed. “The Guide includes in-depth information about Southern California marine protected areas (MPAs), including:

    – Individual maps and regulations for each MPA, and satellite imagery focusing on MPA borders

    – Area maps of the Southern California coast MPAs and Channel Islands MPAs

    – Frequently asked questions

    – General rules that apply to all MPAs

    – Common terms and definitions

    – Marine Life Protection Act goals.”

    Unfortunately, the DFG failed to point out that the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative that created the South Coast “marine protected areas” is privately funded by the shadowy Resources Legacy Fund Foundation and backed by some of the worst corporate greenwashers on the planet, including the Western States Petroleum Association, Walmart and Safeway Stores.

    In an overt case of corporate greenwashing, Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the president of the Western States Petroleum Association and a big advocate for new oil rigs off the California coast and the Keystone XL Pipeline, served as chair of the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force that created the questionable “marine protected areas” that went into effect on the Southern California coast on January 1, 2012.

    She also served on the task forces for the North Central Coast and North Coast. The Western States Petroleum Association represents the West’s major oil producers including BP Plc, Chevron, Exxon Mobil Corporation and Tesoro.

    The so-called “marine protected areas” created under the corrupt MLPA Initiative fail to protect the ocean from oil drilling and spills, water pollution, wave and wind energy projects, military testing, corporate aquaculture, habitat destruction and all other human impacts upon the ocean other than fishing and gathering.

    These “marine protected areas” are in reality “marine polluted areas,” due to the lack of aggressive water quality protections allowed under the Initiative, and “marine poaching areas,” due to the lack of enough DFG wardens to enforce the new fishing regulations along the California coast.

    Just days before the DFG announcement, Ron LeValley, the co-chair of the Science Advisory Team for the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative on the North Coast, was arrested on a $1 million warrant accusing him of burglary, embezzlement and conspiracy to commit a crime.

    The Del Norte County District Attorney alleges that LeValley and another biologist, Sean McAllister, participated in an elaborate embezzlement scheme headed by former Yurok Tribe Forestry Director Roland Raymond that bilked the tribe out of $900,000. (http://blogs.alternet.org/danbacher/2012/02/26/arrest-of-mlpa-

  85. 713
    March 5, 2012 at 8:10 am

    Wow, google Resource Legacy Fund Foundation, Humboldt and read some of the links, i.e.,
    “• Humboldt County General Plan Update. PWC made five grants to organizations and consultants working to inject wildlands considerations into the Humboldt General Plan Update.”


    I wonder why they are so interested in Humboldt?

  86. Owlboy
    March 5, 2012 at 8:37 am

    The problem is that his experties is in writing down field studies and then making false conclusions from them to further his and his cronies biased point of view. ???? That all human activity is evil unless it’s done by a biologist/enviro or the holy FOD’s. The work of MRB is as dirty as it can be.

  87. Anonymous
    March 5, 2012 at 9:12 am

    Again Dan Edrich (owlboy) calls himself out as a friends of the dunes, and restoration hater. He blogs here under 50 pseudonyms making real environmentalists look like wackos. He has destroyed productive listserves and blogs with his consistent hate of all things human. Dan, unplug your computer please or at least give us the opportunity to ignore you by posting under your name.

  88. March 5, 2012 at 9:54 am

    Anon @ 9.12, I have no idea who Owlboy
    You sure have the brass ones to call out my name
    under an Anon while I use the same icon on EVERY
    May I suggest you begin answering questions, and stop
    covering your ass?

  89. March 5, 2012 at 9:56 am

    Isn’t the “MLPA” issue just another example of Multi-National Corps; writing the regulation through “our” corrupted legislature to put all the pressure on small business (in this case fisherman) and at the same time cry that they too are being regulated. I’m wondering if this is akin to the regulations written by huge oil company conglomerates, where the rules and policies only hurt independent operators. Such as minimum purchase requirements, digital upgrades, etc.?
    I apologize if my questions are ignorant. But there are probably quite a few people who are like me and don’t understand the broader issue. It sounded like a good idea on the surface. Protect fisheries and mammals…

  90. FH3
    March 5, 2012 at 9:56 am

    Is the corporation “Mad River Biologists” looked on a being a party to the alleged embezzlement or just a place where two of the alleged embezzlers worked? If the former then why would Mark Colwell, the president of MRB and a prof at HSU, not be named or trying now to protect the corporation’s name?


    At the minimum it would seem he would have to know about the Yurok funds moving through the MRB accounts, unless the books were being fixed at a lower level.

  91. Omnomnonimous
    March 5, 2012 at 10:45 am

    Moviedad, the deeper I drill down into this the less I understand the MPLA. It may well be the corporate greenwashing that so many here accuse it of being but most of its detractors seem to rely on such strident language without doing much to support their assertions that I have no idea what to believe. I just have difficulty accepting what anybody says at face value when their tone clearly shows they’ve got a strong bias, and I see a lot of that surrounding this topic. With MPLA it’s even tougher to figure out because so much of what I can find about it was written well over a year ago and the process has evolved since then so I really have no idea where it stands today.

  92. Omnomnonimous
    March 5, 2012 at 10:51 am

    FH3 makes a very good point regarding Mad River Biologists. The 1099’s and all those checks passing from Raymond to LeValley or McAllister with new checks than passing back to Raymond – if it can be shown that that is all true, then I don’t see how MRB can come out of it alive. It will be very interesting to see if the discovery process produces video or other definitive evidence that there wasn’t just a fake paper trail created in order to obfuscate everything. Unfortunately for MRB it could end up taking a long time before the public is let in on that process and the company will not likely get a whole lot of new contracts before that happens.

  93. youngblood
    March 5, 2012 at 10:54 am

    rumor is that Raymond may be in Mexico.

  94. Jim Martin
  95. tra
    March 5, 2012 at 11:39 am

    Del Norte DA indignant in the face of criticism; Alexander responds to Sac Bee article, editorial calling for resignation.”


  96. Anonymous
    March 5, 2012 at 11:51 am

    Hi JJ @945, good points you bring up but I have to say I am not 100% behind all of them. I do agree that many N. Spot owl NSO or CA spot owl CSO work is either capped at a not to exceed limit, price per call point (dependent of driving points or hiking points) or even possible acreage. There really is a set limit unless some “act of god” occurs and the contract needs to be modified or canceled. I agree with this and to the best of my knowledge besides government contracts and private contracts this standard is adhered to by tribal lands. In addition, each call point (If I remember right) needs to be ½ mile from each other unless some topography requires closer points. So now take this in consideration to how many call points are needed for Yurok land. Also, the Yuroks wouldn’t call all their land unless a THP or project requires it for NEPA/ ESA regs. This cuts the # of points down as well. Finally each year each point needs to be called 3 times unless an activity center is determined.
    What I’m getting to here is that I know of several NSO contracts that have 3-4X the amount of land and for a two year contract did not total more than 250K. Therefore I cannot envision the Yuroks needed more than (being extremely generous here) 250K for a three year contract.
    Question 1: Is Sean and Ron principals in the company? If so, should know what their company is envolved in? YES any good firm knows the contract award. So Sean should know how much the Yurok contract was for.
    #2: Does MRB have a fleet of vehicles requiring additional cost to incur or do they require their employees to drive their own 4wd then reimburse mileage? I do not know that but If they don’t have their own vehicles their cost are significantly lower.
    #3: Why in gods good name would then Sean draw out 244K in cash? Wouldn’t Sean know the price for the Yurok contract? Did he think it was a bottomless contract where at check #31 did he say Whoa this is a lot of money just for a small # of NSO work? No respectable business uses cash for payroll, expenditures etc. Tax write offs require paper trails, this is a huge red flag!
    I agree with you that I deep down inside feel that most of that data that WAS collected is honest data. Yes many people work out of home and it is not at all surprising that private as well as government employees work at home. This is the beauty of working on the north coast and its ruralness. So yes nothing surprising about that.

    Seans Degree: I have to disagree with you on this JJ. I do agree that Sean is 100% qualified to do surveys for many species. He is considered an expert on some. I also agree that a MS or PhD does not entail that an individual is qualified or not. However “stretching” as some call it, the truth is like painting over a bad mark on the wall with thin paint. No matter what, others who are impartial will see it for what it is, a lie. I do know that MRB did placed on some items that Sean was listed as earning his degree at HSU in wildlife. I don’t know if that is the case recently but all I can say is that in his professional society “the wildlife society” would not allow him to be a certified wildlife biologist due to the lacking of this degree. This may not be the case now but if so that shows that the professional society has a set standard.
    I also ask you to discuss this with faculty in the biology , wildlife and fisheresies department at HSU if it is OK to list a degree yet you have not earned it. I would bet 100% of all the faculty would say that is fraudulent and not acceptable. Ron as a partner would know of this as well so the fact of Sean doing this does not paint the frame of mind that they were always individuals with impeccable integrity. This to me would be a wedge the DA would use in a court stating that if he did this to gain personal or monetarily, what will he do next? Remember that our field is being scrutinized constantly. Data is being used and sometimes the management implications impact people emotionally and finically. We as biologist must hold high standards and as Rob Hewitt said in the paper “ all we have is our trust and integrity”, so if that is compromised it impacts us all. This is why “Streching” credentials in my opinion is not acceptable

  97. Anonymous
    March 5, 2012 at 11:57 am

    Guilty as Hell is about the right conclusion. It’s to damn bad that the many years of slime in the anti people,back slap’n, ecobio rip offs didn’t come to light sooner. They couldn’t of course because this is all a house of cards. Only the tribe has the juice, balls and indefference to this good old boy scheem to say ,”hell no”. More people who produce nothing but always have their hands out . Guilty as hell!

  98. Anonymous
    March 5, 2012 at 12:04 pm

    Anon 11:57, you may be excused from the jury pool. Have a nice day.

  99. JJ
    March 5, 2012 at 12:31 pm

    @anon 11:51

    Agreed. The fraud invoice costs are way higher than what anyone in the business would expect. I was just trying to highlight the differences between the real and fake invoices and answer above questions about contracting. Anyone in the business would have shook their head at the costs.

    1. I think Ron is the principal. The fraud invoices were not in the office, meaning it was not a company wide fraud. It would most likely be limited to Ron and Sean.

    2. Vehicles is irrelevant, because either way the client would be charged the same mileage rate. There’d be some minor differences to the surveyors and MRB overhead, but not enough to worry about here.

    3. If Sean really cashed those checks, then he was in on it. The only out I see here is if there were some fake IDs and false accounts. Otherwise, yes, there’s no way he was not aware of what those check were for. All normal invoicing would go through the office, like any regular business.

    Sean’s degree: I’m just not sure how it was represented. It may or may not have been honest. Some contracts require degrees, they likely have enough other people at MRB with degrees to cover the fine print. Typically you send in you qualifications, rates, estimates, etc. and then the awarding company or agency decides how to award the contract. I agree that mis-representing a degree is lying and wrong. I just don’t think they would have had to lie about his degree to get most of the work they were doing. To really understand this, one would need to see what MRB actually claimed on paper in their bid. Also, I have no idea how an “honorary degree” would be awarded or claimed.

  100. Jr
    March 5, 2012 at 3:11 pm

    Readers might visit The Del Norte Triplicate site, http://www.triplicate.com, which changes on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, the days the paper is published.

  101. smileyheart@mailinator.com
    March 5, 2012 at 4:21 pm
  102. dantes inferno
    March 5, 2012 at 4:33 pm

    OUCH! ^^^^^

  103. Owlboy
    March 6, 2012 at 8:16 am

    EIR comments should call for all MRB generated data to be excluded from the process.

  104. msanders2
    March 6, 2012 at 8:28 am

    LeValley’s website


    has him saying he is the treasurer of the Pacific Seabird Group. Is he actually managing their finances?

    As Jim Martin says above, trust is a huge issue with non-profits. So how long have they been trusting him to be treasurer?

  105. Doo Dah
    March 6, 2012 at 9:07 am

    Special Announcement

    The Pacific Seabird Group (PSG) is a society of professional seabird researchers and managers dedicated to the study and conservation of seabirds. Ron LeValley was the treasurer of the Pacific Seabird Group. Effective February 27, 2012, he has resigned from his duties as the PSG treasurer.


  106. Jr
    March 6, 2012 at 9:31 am

    I am convinced that Ron is innocent of all charges made against him. If not, why would he drive five hours north from his home in Mendocino to Crescent City? If he was guilty, he would probably drive in the other direction.

  107. C Darrow
    March 6, 2012 at 9:54 am

    Jr at 9:31
    Are you convinced of his innocence because he turned himself in, because you don’t believe the findings of the investigator or because you find it hard to believe he could act in such a fraudulent and/or incompetent way?
    Do you believe the findings of the investigator were not enough to warrant the current charges against him?

    Thinking someone must be innocent because they surrender to the police seems a bit naive. Plenty of guilty people turn themselves in once an arrest warrant is issued since they either hope to beat the charges or because they understand whatever penalty might be coming their way is better than a life on the lam.

  108. Jr
    March 6, 2012 at 10:31 am

    Probably just an accounting error that can be explained and corrected when the two parties meet to sort this whole thing out. Ron deserves to be back running his gallery in Fort Bragg as well as leading birding tours at various area festivals.

  109. Anonymous
    March 6, 2012 at 1:16 pm

    Hey JR, are you then convinced Sean was guilty since they took him out of MRBs office in cuffs? Or did ron soil himself and realized in order to save face

  110. Anonymous
    March 6, 2012 at 1:17 pm

    JR your dumb, your really are dumb. 244K in cash is not an accounting error.

  111. Anonymous
    March 6, 2012 at 3:10 pm

    The newpaper stated that LaValley turned himself in after he was convinced to do so.

  112. Anonymous
    March 6, 2012 at 10:30 pm

    Now Sean and Ron can add “Jail Bird” to their list! I bet the other 400’s will never get that bird.


  113. msanders2
    March 7, 2012 at 6:54 am

    LeValley was apparently in charge of the finances for a number of organizations. Something called the “World Seabird Union Transition Team” has him listed as their Treasurer


    and there is no indication that he has yet stepped down from that post or been asked to resign.. His desire to manage the funds of various organizations is curious given the recent criminal allegations against him.

  114. Winston Churchill
    March 8, 2012 at 11:56 am

    As a corporation, Mad River Biologists must have a treasurer or chief finanical officer. Who is it? What did the treasurer/CFO know and when did the treasurer/CFO know it?

  115. Anonymous
    March 8, 2012 at 4:10 pm

    Saw an ad on CL. Will do bird surveys cheap. ????? rotflmao!

  116. Anonymous
    March 8, 2012 at 4:10 pm

    Was that from the bird man of Cresent City?

  117. bird flipper
    March 9, 2012 at 4:08 am

    We should send these bird watchers to Pelican Bay.

  118. Bayou Bob
    March 9, 2012 at 5:59 am

    Hello? Are Sean McAllister and Ron LeValley’s girlfriend Charlene McAllister related? see: http://www.facebook.com/ron.levalley – Ms. McAllister was recently posted on local list-serves, pleading for the 24k bail money for LeValley and McAllister. If so, we may have one big happy family in crime?

  119. msanders2
    March 9, 2012 at 8:43 am

    I would think that pleading for $24k bail money would be a good way to prove one’s innocence in a case involving >$900k. And if that much was taken and one can’t come up with that little bail money then one could ask the court for leniency based on the defendant’s gross incompetence.

  120. Anonymous
    March 9, 2012 at 10:25 am

    MSander, it could be also a way to not show that you can just pull 24K out of your hat instantaneously. Curious to see how much ron makes from his camera classes and photos etc.. 24K at that age and with such a lucrative business MRB was, it is difficult for me to fathom why it is so difficult for a principal officer is having problems. Plus the 24K is for Sean and Ron, I believe.

  121. March 9, 2012 at 10:34 am

    msanders unfortunately the failure to raise bail can also be a negative, a red flag, because it is an indication that they are broke, and some people are motivated to steal if they go broke, especially if they are not used to being broke.

    have a peaceful day,

  122. Winston Churchill
    April 6, 2012 at 7:47 am

    Now that Roland Raymond has been found wil lwe learn the truth about what happened?

  123. Linda LeValley
    April 24, 2012 at 7:37 am

    Omnomnonimous…..”Majorly Framed.”

    As I sit here and read these comments, I have to wonder what kind of people would make judgments and accusations against two men that they don’t know at all. How can they destroy a man’s career, his reputation and his freedom by not giving him the chance to defend himself?

    This “Yurik Tribe Embezzlement” case against Ron and Sean has a long way to go, and the verdict will show each and every one of you that you have slandered and made horrible accusations about a man who has dedicated his entire life to protecting wildlife.

    Ron has lost his career, his credibility, his reputation and his ability to protect the animals who can’t protect themselves. California will pay the biggest price by losing such a knowledgeable environmentalist. Will any of you take the time to blog about them when they are cleared of these charges???? No, you will just find someone else to lie about. Someone else to slander and falsely accuse. Ron and Sean did not run when they found out about this. They both walked into the police station to face these allegations head on. The real perp ran away and hid and did not care that two “friends” were taking the heat for what he had done.

    Ron is not the person that has been described as a “thief” in this blog. He is an extremly good biologist who has worked his entire career, never for “the money,” but for satisfaction of knowing he has made your state a better place to live.

    Ron & Sean will be found not guilty, but all of you will go on about your daily gossip, while two good men pay a horrible price for trusting a man they did not know, any better then any of you know Ron LeValley and Sean McAllister. Take a minute from your gossiping, consider the people who love these two men. Consider their family, their friends and all the person’s who know the real truth. This could be someone you care about, how would that make you feel if you were to read about it on the internet?

  124. Anonymous
    May 18, 2012 at 4:53 pm

    Amen sister, I could not have put that across any better than the way you did, Thank you for that!!!!! I am in full agreeance with your comments an appreciate your puttin bored judgemental gossip and comments on people they know nothing about ‘in their place’ Have a Great one!

  125. BlueWhaleDead
    May 18, 2012 at 6:13 pm

    Bullshit sister.
    Our coastline has been ravaged by faux ‘restoration’ workers for over a decade. You cannot shake one of these phonies
    to awaken them. They cover each others asses while our
    stability, wildlife and wetlands take the hind-end.
    The coastlines where these monkees ‘work’ have been damaged
    egregiously, the erosion is incredible- I am sorry, but it is well past time to recognize how our removal of vegetation is compromising both coastline and wildlife.


  126. Linda LeValley
    May 19, 2012 at 6:28 am

    Blue Whale…., Ron would probably concur with your assessment of the coastline and the wildlife that is being compromised. Ron has given his entire life trying to change that. He has not covered any human “asses,” he is too busy trying to cover the asses of the wildlife, who are paying the price for the “monkees,” that are responsible.

    I should be upset with you for your “bullshit sister” comment, but I actually admire you. You sound like someone Ron would like in his corner. If you don’t know him, I suggest you seek him out, and learn who he really is. He is not one of your so called “monkees.”

  127. URI
    May 22, 2012 at 8:42 am

    Linda are you related to Ron?
    The thing that I have a lot of trouble with is that with Ron and Seans involvement we now have 7000 acres of critical habitat for the WESTERN snowy plover in Humboldt and Del Norte. There were 8 fledged chicks last year almost 1 chick for every 1000 acres. In Santa Barbera where there is conciderably more of them the ratio is about 1 for every 15 acres. Hundreds of acres of habitate has been severly altered without EIR’s largely to “benifit ” the plover. Obviously it has not helped.
    To find out that the fact checking for the Mad Biologists collected data according to Mark Colwell was done by Mark himself who happens to be President of the Mad Bio’s brings to question the integrity of this research.
    Questioning research means questioning motives. It means far more transparency than Mark has been willing to show.
    Hyper-environmentalism ends up creating a lot more problems for the rest of us to clean up.

    I am waiting for the proposal to make Humboldt County look like Utah where thousands of snowy plovers really like to live.

  128. Winston Churchill
    May 22, 2012 at 9:35 am

    In the famous words of Watergate, what did Mark Colwell know and when did he know it? I should think the prosecutor in this case would have questioned President Mark Colwell under oath a long time ago about the huge sums of money that passed through the books of Mad River Biologists.

    The lack of curiosity about the role of Colwell as president is one of the stranger aspects of this entire affair. Colwell may be pure as the driven snow, but I don’t see how a president of any corporation of this size can “not know” that hundreds of thousands of bogus invoices had been flowing through his company books for several years. Don’t they hold meetings of the board of directors? Don’t they have periodic treasurer’s reports and approve them?

    And who the heck was the treasurer of Mad River Biologists?

    Why wasn’t the corporation indicted?

  129. Bellboy
    June 24, 2012 at 3:19 pm

    According to D&B, Charlene McAllister is “Contact #2” at MRB.


    That’s Sean’s mommy.

  130. Bellboy
    June 24, 2012 at 3:57 pm

    “Based on the patterns established above, I believe investigators will discover that the MRB Research Inc account was used to further hide, transfer, and/or disperse monies originating from the embezzled checks deposited into the Mad River Biologists account.” (line 662 of arrest warrant)


    So boo-yah for “Contact #2”.

    The Mendocino/Fort Bragg newspapers won’t run this story. But they’re advertising a benefit for McAllister & LeValley at the Caspar Community Center in a public service announcement.


    According to the Beacon, they’re looking for a “volunteer to act as treasurer”.

    If the alleged perps are worthy of a benefit, why not let them handle the money?

  131. James
    June 24, 2012 at 5:27 pm

    Guilty as HELL!!!

  132. March 20, 2013 at 6:42 pm

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  133. Just Watchin
    March 20, 2013 at 7:12 pm

    botox :
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    How does an accident happen in advance???

  134. Anonymous
    March 20, 2013 at 8:09 pm

    Who is stupid enough to question an Aussie spammer as if they were a real person?

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