Two biologists, former forestry director for California's Yurok tribe, accused of embezzling around US$900,000 intended for spotted owl research

EUREKA, California , February 28, 2012 () – Two contract biologists and the former director of forestry for the Yurok tribe are accused of embezzling some $900,000 in money intended for spotted owl research over the past three years.

Court documents allege the men conspired to charge the tribe for phony spotted owl surveys on tribal forests, and that the former tribal forestry director improperly used a tribal credit card to buy iPads, car repairs, gasoline and cleaning supplies.

The investigation began when tribal officials went to authorities with invoices that didn’t match up, The Eureka Times-Standard reported.

Del Norte County District Attorney Jon Alexander said the case involves federal funds.

Mad River Biologists founder Ron LeValley and associate biologist Sean McAllister remained in jail Monday on charges of burglary, embezzlement and conspiracy. Bail for LeValley was set at $1 million, and $50,000 for McAllister.

Former tribal forestry director Roland Raymond has not been arrested. He left his job with the tribe on Oct. 4, 2011, after failing to report to work after being on family medical leave from June 27, 2011, to Sept. 27, 2011.

A search warrant affidavit file in Del Norte County Superior Court said 75 checks from the tribe totaling $870,064.91 were deposited into Mad River Biologists accounts between February 2008 and December 2010.

Investigator AC Field wrote that he believes the three men conspired to embezzle that money from the tribe by presenting false invoices for work that was nor performed or was not necessary. The affidavit added that Raymond used a tribal credit card to buy seven iPads, car repairs, a shower door, gasoline and cleaning supplies.

Alexander said a search of Raymond’s home in Eureka last week turned up syringes and a substance sent to a state crime lab for testing.

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