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  1. #1
    Senior Member zeezil's Avatar
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    May 2007

    Immigrants paid to join fake 'tribe,' feds charge

    Immigrants paid to join fake 'tribe,' feds charge

    A driver's license photo shows Malcolm Webber, also known as Grand Chief Thunderbird IV.

    WICHITA, Kansas (AP) -- When federal agents raided the offices of the Kaweah Indian Nation, Malcolm Webber told the arresting officer he had not committed fraud and was confused about how he could be arrested on "sovereign soil," court documents show.

    A driver's license photo shows Malcolm Webber, also known as Grand Chief Thunderbird IV.

    Now, almost a year later, Webber must defend himself against charges that he and his so-called tribe defrauded immigrants by claiming that tribal membership conferred U.S. citizenship. He is scheduled to go to trial Tuesday.

    Prosecutors filed a motion on Monday to dismiss charges against the tribe, leaving the trial to focus on Webber alone.

    His attorney, Kurt Kerns, told the federal judge last week that the defense will argue that Webber believed his actions were legal. In hopes of bolstering his argument that his client had no criminal intent, Kerns said he plans to introduce as evidence two books that he contends gave Webber the idea to sell tribal memberships to immigrants.

    Webber, 70, of Bel Aire, also known as Grand Chief Thunderbird IV, is charged with two counts of harboring illegal immigrants, two counts of possession of false documents with intent to defraud the United States, two counts of conspiracy with intent to defraud the United States, one count of mail fraud and one count seeking criminal forfeiture.

    Last year, federal prosecutors charged the tribe and 11 people in a 17-count indictment. Charges have been dismissed against two defendants, one remains a fugitive and seven others have pleaded guilty to reduced charges.

    On Monday, Victor Orellana, 45, a Guatemalan native and legal U.S. resident who lives in Long Beach, Calif., pleaded guilty to failing to notify authorities of a crime.

    Assistant U.S. Attorney Brent Anderson told the court that police seized $12,700 in cash from Orellana's home after finding Spanish-speaking people lined up outside it, waiting to buy tribal memberships for $600 each.

    Orellana said before his plea hearing that he had been convinced the tribe's claims were true after coming to Wichita and seeing armed Kaweah tribal police driving official-looking vehicles.

    The government plans to call 14 witnesses to testify, including two pastors, three co-defendants and several government officials, according to court documents. Kerns told the judge the defense intends to call four witnesses, including Webber.

    Prosecutors contend the Kaweah Indian Nation defrauded legal and illegal immigrants by claiming tribal membership conferred U.S. citizenship and would allow them to obtain other benefits and documents, such as Social Security cards.

    Prosecutors say the tribe is fake. But even if it were real, tribal membership would not make someone a U.S. citizen.

    Based on the defense's proposed jury instructions, Kerns appears ready to raise the issue that the Kaweahs are a tribe, albeit one not recognized by the federal government, and that Webber may be an Indian.

    The defense wants jurors to be instructed that a group of Indians can call itself a tribe and be recognized as such by other tribes. It also wants the jury instructed that to determine who is an Indian, the person must have some Indian blood and identifiable Indian history and the Indian community must recognize the person as an Indian.

    The judge has not ruled on proposed jury instructions and is not likely to do so until after all testimony.

    Questions about the legitimacy of Webber's tribe and his Indian ancestry have dogged the tribe and its self-proclaimed chief since its beginnings.

    In its 1984 ruling against federal acknowledgment, the Bureau of Indian Affairs found that the Kaweah Indian Nation Inc. did not exist before 1980 when it was formed under the leadership of Webber, a non-Indian. The BIA called it an urban Indian interest group from Porterville, California, that had no relation to the aboriginal Kaweah Indians.

    The BIA finding documented the tribe's contentious history, noting it was formed as a result of an internal dispute with a similar group formed by Webber in 1976, the United Lumbee Nation of North Carolina and America, Inc. It also noted his tumultuous relationship with Oatman, Arizona, residents and his conviction there on a sex-related charge.

    Webber has likened his tribe's struggles to the Indian militants who occupied Wounded Knee, South Dakota, for 71 days in 1973.

    While in Oatman, he sent letters to Nevada's governor and the BIA, telling them, "Our people (Kaweahs) are mad and we are trying to hold our warriors back from causing trouble in Oatman and against the Mohave County Sheriff's Department ... before you know it the Mojaves and Hualapais will get into the act. It will make Wounded Knee look like and [sic] Sunday School picnic," according to the BIA report. ... index.html
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  2. #2
    Senior Member azwreath's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Malcolm Webber, also known as Grand Chief Thunderbird IV.

    Were Grand Chiefs I-III this damned stupid too?
    Join our efforts to Secure America's Borders and End Illegal Immigration by Joining ALIPAC's E-Mail Alerts network (CLICK HERE)

  3. #3
    AE is offline

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    Jan 1970
    3507+ ALIPAC Super Hero since 07/2005
    Thia man is nuts and a con artist to boot!
    “In the beginning of a change, the Patriot is a scarce man, Brave, Hated, and Scorned. When his cause succeeds however,the timid join him, For then it costs nothing to be a Patriot.â€

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