A former advisor to presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush was recently sentenced on a bribery conviction relating to the Twenty-Nine Palms Band of Mission Indians Tribe.
Professor David Alan Heslop was convicted on June 30 in a Los Angeles courtroom. Judge Michael Fitzgerald sentenced Heslop to 21 months in federal prison and three years of supervised probation. He was also ordered to pay $300,000 in restitution, according to release from the Twenty-Nine Palms Band of Mission Indians Tribe.
Prior to sentencing, Heslop plead guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery; cheating the Twenty-Nine Palms Band of Mission Indians Tribe out of millions of dollars related to construction and real estate transactions. Officials said he orchestrated multiple fraudulent transactions unbeknownst to the tribe.
The tribe's former general counsel, Gary Kovall, also plead guilty on felony charges for his involvement in the scheme.
Officials said Kovall negotiated multiple construction contracts with Paul Phillip Bardos, a general contractor from Rancho Cucamonga, who in turn, kicked back hundreds of thousands of dollars to Heslop. Heslop then forwarded hundreds of thousands of dollars to Kovall and his wife.
Paul Bardos plead guilty to tax evasion and Kovall is scheduled to be sentenced on September 29, according to the tribe's release.
"We are pleased that Judge Fitzgerald imposed nearly two years in prison and a financial judgment as well," said Darrell Mike, Tribal Chairman for Twenty-Nine Palms Band of Mission Indians. "This decision reinforces the notion that if someone takes advantage of Native Americans, they will be held accountable."
The judge stated that the severity of the sentence was in part to send a message of deterrence to Indian Country advisors that violation of federal laws designed to protect tribes from dishonest advisors and consultants would not be tolerated.
Heslop was previously a professor of political science at Claremont McKenna College and he also founded the conservative think tank, the 'Rose Institute', officials said in the release.