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Third guilty plea in tribal bribery case

A California man became the third person to plead guilty in a kickback scheme to defraud the Twenty-Nine Palms Band of Mission Indians, the Department of Justice said.

David Alan Heslop pleaded guilty Monday to conspiracy to commit bribery. He admitted paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes to Gary Edward Kovall, an attorney serving as the Coachella-based tribe’s general counsel, according to the Justice Department.

Kovall, a Minnesota resident, pleaded guilty last month to conspiracy to commit bribery, the DOJ said. A third defendant, Paul Phillip Bardos of California, pleaded guilty last month to tax evasion.

Kovall and Heslop formed companies and Kovall convinced the tribe to award them construction and consulting work.

To disguise Kovall’s involvement in the companies, Heslop made Kovall’s payments to Peggy Anne Shambaugh, his then-girlfriend and now wife.

Over 18 months ending in mid-2008, the tribe paid the companies about $2.8 million and Heslop paid Kovall about $300,000.

Heslop is scheduled to be sentenced on June 30. Kovall and Bardos face sentencing on September 29.

All three face up to five years in prison.

The DOJ’s April 8, 2014 release can be found here.


Julie DiMauro is the executive editor of FCPA Blog and can be reached here.

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