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.