Crow tribal official, relative get probation in bird trafficking case

2013-10-23T12:05:00Z 2013-10-24T00:10:24Z Crow tribal official, relative get probation in bird trafficking caseBy CLAIR JOHNSON The Billings Gazette

A federal judge has sentenced a Crow tribal legislator and his relative to probation for conspiring to traffic eagles and migratory birds.

Senior U.S. District Judge Don Molloy on Tuesday sentenced Kenneth G. Shane, 45, of Crow Agency, to one year of probation and his brother-in-law, Douglas Vance Crooked Arm, 36, of Pryor, to four years of probation, along with up to six months of house detention with electronic monitoring. Molloy also ordered the defendants to pay $3,000 restitution.

Prosecutor Mark S. Smith said in court records that Crooked Arm and Shane sold or offered to sell golden eagle and bald eagle parts, along with a magpie feather fan and a hawk tail fan to an undercover agent.

Two of the sales included a golden eagle feather fan for $1,500 and parts of a golden eagle for $1,500. Crooked Arm attracted raptors by setting out poached deer carcasses.

The trafficking ran from August 2008 until March 2009 and was part of a larger wildlife investigation into the illegal sale of migratory bird feathers.

Shane and Crooked Arm pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges in July.

Shane will resign his seat in the Crow Legislature, said his attorney, former Montana U.S. Attorney Sherry Matteucci. Shane did not seek re-election and had one month left in his term, she said. He resigned as Speaker of the House in July.

Crooked Arm appeared to be motivated by greed, Molloy said. Crooked Arm got the money for the parts. Shane passed on payment to Crooked Arm and did not receive any money.

Molloy also questioned the government’s investigative approach, which he said took advantage of Shane’s nature.

Matteucci, who has worked as the tribe’s legal adviser to its judicial branch since her service in the 1990s as Montana’s top federal prosecutor, said Shane was approached by agents looking for eagle parts to complete the regalia on a ceremonial dress.

Shane thought he was helping someone in hopes of becoming a horse trainer for the agent, she said.

Shane has “amazing history of service” to his community and as a convicted felon can no longer serve in tribal office, Matteucci said.

Matteucci asked the judge to reduce the felony to a misdemeanor. Molloy said he would if he could because he didn’t think Shane’s role amounted to a felony, but that he didn’t have that authority.

Molloy accepted conditional plea agreements in the case, which means the defendants can appeal his earlier ruling denying a motion to dismiss the charges.

The defendants, however, cannot appeal their sentences. If an appeal is successful, the case could be dismissed or returned for a trial.



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