There’s been quite a bit of recent discussion among writers about which agencies investigate crimes that occur on tribal lands. Therefore, I thought you might be interested in seeing a few of the May, 2021 indictments handed down by a federal grand jury.

This is one list, from one district, in one U.S. state—the Northern District of Oklahoma.

The list names the defendants and offers a brief description of the crime(s) for which they’re charged. In addition, contained within the descriptions are the investigating agencies. You’ll see that in most of the Indian Country cases, the investigations are conducted by multiple agencies, such as the FBI, ATF, DEA, local police and sheriff’s offices.

*To learn more about the relationships between agencies and how they interact, please read the brief section below the list of indictments.


Federal Grand Jury B Indictments Announced by Acting United States Attorney Clint Johnson

The following individuals have been charged with violations of United States law in indictments returned by the Grand Jury. The return of an indictment is a method of informing a defendant of alleged violations of federal law, which must be proven in a court of law beyond a reasonable doubt to overcome a defendant’s presumption of innocence.

Bryce Martin Agnew. Aggravated Sexual Abuse of a Minor in Indian Country. (21-CR-224)Agnew, 77, of Bartlesville, is charged with knowingly engaging in a sexual act with a minor under the age of 12, on July 9, 2009. The FBI and Bartlesville Police Department are the investigative agencies.

David Abel Alvarado. Assault with a Dangerous Weapon with Intent to do Bodily Harm in Indian Country. (21-CR-232)  Alvarado, 19, of Tulsa, is charged with assaulting a victim on April 26, 2021, by stabbing the victim in the chest. The FBI and Tulsa Police Department are the investigative agencies.

Lucas Wayne Armentor. Assault of an Intimate/Dating Partner by Strangling and Suffocating in Indian Country (Count 1); Assault by Striking, Beating, and Wounding (Misdemeanor) (Counts 2 and 4); and Kidnapping in Indian Country (Count 3). (21-CR-218) Armentor, 37, of Skiatook, is charged with strangling and suffocating an intimate partner on March 27, 2021. He is further charged with striking, beating and wounding the female victim on March 27, 2021, and April 30, 2021. Finally, he is charged with kidnapping the victim on April 30, 2021. The FBI and Skiatook Police Department are the investigative agencies.

Denim Lee Blount; Hunter Lee Hobbs. Conspiracy to Carry, Use, Brandish, and Discharge a Firearm During and in Relation to a Crime of Violence;Attempted Carjacking; Carrying, Using Brandishing, and Discharging a Firearm During and in Relation to a Crime of Violence. (21-CR-233) On May 8, 2021, at 10:29 pm, two men later identified as Hobbs and Blount approached a man who was attempting to hook up his vehicle and trailer. The victim stated that one of the defendants pointed a shotgun at him and the other pointed a rifle at him. According to court documents, the two ordered the victim to get out of his vehicle, and when the victim refused, both men allegedly shot him. The two then fled west in a dark colored SUV, leaving the victim and his vehicle behind. The victim was transported to St. Francis Hospital for non-life threatening injuries. The FBI, Tulsa Police Department, and U.S. Marshals Service are the investigative agencies.

Eric Tyrone Bradford. First Degree Murder in Indian Country; Causing Death by Using and Discharging a Firearm During and in Relation to Crimes of Violence. (21-CR-234) Bradford, 44, is charged with shooting and killing Daniel Watashe on April 30, 2016. He is further charged with using and  discharging a firearm during and in relation to crimes of violence- First Degree Murder and Second Degree Murder in Indian country. The FBI and Tulsa Police Department are the investigative agencies.

Travas Ramon Estrada. Assault of an Intimate/Dating Partner by Strangling and Suffocating in Indian Country; Assault Resulting in Substantial Bodily Injury to an Intimate/Dating Partner in Indian Country; Kidnapping in Indian Country. (21-CR-219) Estrada, 44, of Tulsa, is charged with strangling and suffocating his intimate partner on April 24, 2020. He is also charged with assaulting the woman repeatedly by striking her in the head and throwing her against the wall, which resulted in substantial bodily injury. Finally, the defendant is charged with kidnapping the victim between April 24, 2020, and April 29, 2020. The FBI and Tulsa Police Department are the investigative agencies.

Jock O’Dell Gray. Assault with a Dangerous Weapon with Intent to do Bodily Harm in Indian Country. (21-CR-235) Gray, 41, of Jay, is charged with assaulting a female victim with a machete on April 21, 2021. The FBI and Delaware County Sheriff’s Office are the investigative agencies.

Lee Owen Hallford. Assault With a Dangerous Weapon, with Intent to do Bodily Harm in Indian Country; Failure to Register as a Sex Offender. (superseding, 21-CR-23)Hallford, 39, of Tulsa, is charged with assaulting a male with a knife on Jan. 27, 2021. He is further charged with failing to register as a sex offender. The FBI and Tulsa Police Department are the investigative agencies.

Weston James Hill; Rayna Shianne Parkerson. Possession of Methamphetamine with Intent to Distribute; Possession of Heroin with Intent to Distribute. (21-CR-236) Hill, 29, of Broken Arrow, and Parkerson, 23, of Coweta, are charged with knowingly possessing with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of a methamphetamine. The two are further charged with knowingly possessing with intent to distribute heroin. The Drug Enforcement Administration and Broken Arrow Police Department are the investigative agencies.

Arnold Dean Howell Jr.; Katherine Elaine Freeman. First Degree Murder in Indian Country. (superseding) (21-CR-121) Howell, 30, and Freeman, 33, are charged with aiding and abetting one another when killing Michael Mondier by stabbing him to death during the perpetration of a robbery on April 13, 2015. The FBI, Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, Creek County Sheriff’s Office, and Sapulpa Police Department are the investigative agencies.

Jeffrey Arch Jones.Aggravated Sexual Abuse of a Child in Indian Country (counts 1 and 3); Abusive Sexual Contact of a Child in Indian Country (count 2). (superseding) (21-CR-23)Jones, 31, allegedly engaged in sex acts with a minor under 12 years of age from Sept. 29, 2015 to Sept 28, 2016. He is also charged with abusive sexual contact of a second child under the age of 12 from Oct. 9, 2014, to Sept. 30, 2016. Finally, he is charged with engaging in sex acts with the second child from Oct. 9, 2014, through Sept. 30, 2016. The Broken Arrow Police Department and FBI are the investigative agencies.

Thomas Anthony Pearce. Coercion or Enticement of a Minor; Production of Child Pornography in Indian Country; Possession of Child Pornography in Indian Country; Distribution of Marijuana. (21-CR-237) According to court documents, Pearce, 53, of Glenpool, coerced a minor to engage in sexual activity from Feb. 3-Feb 8, 2021. During the same time, Pearce also coerced the minor to engage in sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of producing images. Pearce is also charged with possessing and knowingly accessing child pornography. Finally, Pearce is charged with distributing marijuana to the minor. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations and the Jenks Police Department conducted the investigation.

Robert Ray Sheets. Accessory After the Fact to First Degree Murder in Indian Country. (21-CR-240) Sheets, 42, of Owasso, is charged with assisting Tommy Alexander Jones and Wesley Johnston in order to hinder and prevent the offenders’ apprehension after they allegedly committed first degree murder. The crime occurred in October 2018. The FBI, Tulsa Police Department and Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office are the investigative agencies.

Gerald Smith. First Degree Burglary in Indian Country (count 1); Kidnapping in Indian Country (counts 2 and 3); Assault Resulting in Substantial Bodily Injury to an Intimate/Dating Partner in Indian Country (count 4); Robbery in Indian Country (count 5). (21-CR-225) On May 4, 2021, Smith, 27, of Tulsa, is alleged to have forcibly opened a locked sliding door at a former girlfriend’s apartment and entered without permission. He then threatened the victim and told her she needed to get him a hotel room. Due to previous violent acts, the victim went with the defendant, taking her young child with her. Once at the hotel, the woman attempted to escape with her child but was unable.  Smith then beat the woman, striking her in the head repeatedly which resulted in substantial bodily injury. Then the defendant allegedly drove off in the victim’s vehicle. The FBI and Tulsa Police Department are the investigative agencies.

Louden Dewayne Swaim. Felon in Possession of a Firearm and Ammunition. (21-CR-238) Swaim, 35, of Bluejacket, is charged with being a felon in possession of a GForce Arms 12-gauge shotgun; Smith & Wesson .223 rifle; and 116 rounds of ammunition. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Craig County Sheriff’s Office are the investigative agencies.

Aleta Necole Thomas. False Statement to a Financial Institution (counts 1-5). (21-CR-239) Thomas, 42, of Tulsa, is charged with lying to five different banks for the purpose of securing multiple loans as part of the Paycheck Protection Program, which is administered by the Small Business Administration. Some of the false businesses Thomas allegedly used to apply for the loans were Lead Us Kids Home Daycare, Coming Correction Community Ministries, Coming Correct Community Ministries II, and Lead Us Kids Daycare II. The Office of Inspector General Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System; U.S. Department of Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, and Small Business Administration Office of Inspector General; are the investigative agencies.

Clinton Kyle Veley. Felon in Possession of a Firearm and Ammunition; Assault with a Dangerous Weapon with Intent to do Bodily Harm in Indian Country. (21-CR-220)Veley, 39, of Nowata, is charged with being a felon in possession of a Rock Island Armory M5 12-gauge pump action shotgun and ammunition. He is further charged with assaulting a man on Oct. 14, 2020, by using the shotgun to strike the victim in the face, causing severe lacerations. The FBI, Nowata Police Department and Cherokee Nation Marshal Service conducted the investigation.

Kevin White. First Degree Murder in Indian Country. (21-CR-222)White,62, is charged with the first degree murder of Donald Iwanski by repeatedly beating him with a metal pipe on Feb. 4, 1995. The FBI is the investigative agency.

Edgar Gene Willhite. Assault Resulting in Serious Bodily Injury in Indian Country. (21-CR-226) Willhite, 57, of Tulsa, is charged with assaulting a man by punching him, causing the victim to fall. The assault resulted in substantial bodily injury. The FBI and Tulsa Police Department are the investigative agencies.

Steven Dale Worcester. Conveying False and Misleading Information Concerning an Explosive Device. (21-CR-221) Worcesteris charged with conveying false and misleading information about an explosive when he made statements to a city of Tulsa bus driver that “you better get off now and call somebody because I have a bomb.” The FBI and Tulsa Police Department are the investigative agencies.


 

The Bureau of Indian Affairs is comprised of nine districts.

  • District I is located in Aberdeen, SD and covers ND, SD and NE;
  • District II is located in Muskogee, OK and covers KS, OK, and TX;
  • District III is located Phoenix, AZ and covers AZ, NV, and UT;
  • District IV is located in Albuquerque, NM and covers CO and NM;
  • District V is located in Billings, MT and covers MT and WY;
  • District VI is located in Nashville, TN and covers the entire Eastern Region;
  • District VII is located in Bloomington, MN and covers MN, IA, IL, MI, and WI;
  • District VIII is located in Vancouver, WA and covers ID, OR, WA, and AK; and
  • District IX is located in Sacramento, CA and covers the state of California.

Now that Oklahoma, in District II,  now has over five dozen Indian Casinos situated within Indian Country, there’s been a significant rise in serious crimes, such as embezzlement, money laundering and illegal drug distribution. To assist District II tribal law enforcement Special Agents with investigations, they’ve implemented over one hundred Memorandums of Understanding (MOU’s) for cross-deputations involving county, municipal and tribal law enforcement jurisdictions.

District II does not have detention facilities or staff; therefore, they’ve contracted with county jails to house their prisoners.

*Source and images – BIA, USDOI, Department of Justice 


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