A former Passamaquoddy tribal governor at Indian Township and the tribe’s ex-business manager go on trial in U.S. District Court on Monday for allegedly misusing $1.7 million in federal funds, health care center funds and other tribal money over a 4-year period.
Robert L. Newell, 64, of Princeton, and James J. Parisi Jr., 45, of Portland, pled not guilty on April 1st to a multicount indictment.
Newell, who most recently served as tribal governor at Indian Township from 2002 to 2006, and Parisi, and alsoserved as Indian Township’s finance director from 2003 to 2006, were indicted on March 19 by a federal grand jury after a nearly two-year investigation.
According to a 29-page indictment, the Indian Township tribal government received more than $7 million in federal funds between Oct. 1, 2002, and Sept. 30, 2006.
Of that amount, nearly $1.7 million was misapplied by Newell and Parisi for uses not allowed by federal law, the indictment charges.
Among some of the improper uses being alleged are ":honoraria": payments made to the governor, lieutenant governor, tribal council members and certain senior employees that were based on vacation time and paid in addition to their regular salaries.
A witness list filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office includes about 70 names, including the current Indian Township tribal governor, the former director of the health center on the reservation and other tribal members, as well as officials from the Bureau of Indian Affairs and investigators at a handful of other federal agencies.
The trial is expected to last three weeks. A jury was selected in thelast week of October.