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Claremont McKenna College official sentenced in tribal bribery case

The founding director of Claremont McKenna College’s Rose Institute of State and Local Government was sentenced Monday in federal court to 21 months in prison for his role in a kickback scheme to defraud the Twenty-Nine Palms Band of Mission Indians.

David Alan Heslop is being allowed to appeal his conviction and remain free on bail during the appeal process.

A restitution hearing will be scheduled within the next 90 days to determine what, if anything, Heslop will be ordered to pay to the tribe, the San Bernardino County Sun reported on Monday.

Heslop, 76, pleaded guilty in April to conspiracy to commit bribery and admitted that he paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to bribe Gary Edward Kovall, an attorney who served as general counsel for the Twenty-Nine Palms Band of Mission Indians, according to the Justice Department.

Kovall and Heslop knew each other from their past affiliation with Claremont McKenna College’s Rose Institute, where Kovall had been a senior research associate before serving as general counsel for Twentynine Plams.

According to the Justice Department, Kovall and Heslop formed companies to which Kovall then convinced the tribe to award construction and consulting work.

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

Over a period of 18 months ending in mid-2008, the Justice Department said the tribe paid the companies about $2.8 million, including an ill-fated casino project the tribe was trying to get off the ground. Heslop paid Kovall about $300,000 of those proceeds, through Shambuagh.

Kovall and Heslop also convinced the tribe to buy 47 acres of land for more than $30 million and to use Shambaugh’s real estate brokerage company as its agent. Shambaugh paid Heslop a $10,000 gratuity after the sale of the land closed, according to the sentencing memo and indictment.

Kovall, a Minnesota resident, pleaded guilty in March to conspiracy to commit bribery, the DOJ said. He is scheduled to be sentenced in September. 

A third defendant, Paul Phillip Bardos of California, pleaded guilty in March to tax evasion.

Shambaugh was placed on court supervision for 18 months as an alternative to prosecution for criminal conspiracy and bribery.

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

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