April 26, 2018
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Passamaquoddy hold tribal council elections

By Diana Graettinger

INDIAN TOWNSHIP — Although he is under federal indictment for misappropriation of tribal funds, former Indian Township Tribal Gov. Robert Newell ran for a seat on the tribal council Wednesday. He lost — but not by much, 12 votes to be exact.

Pleasant Point and Indian Townships hold their respective elections the first Tuesday and Wednesday after Labor Day.

Eleven people ran for the three open seats on the tribal council at Indian Township.

Out of 460 registered voters, 310 cast their ballots.

The three top vote getters were Richard Sabattus with 129 votes, Elizabeth Neptune with 124 votes, and Martin Dana with 122 votes.

Newell came in fourth with 110 votes.

In April, Newell, 64, and the tribe’s ex-business manager pleaded not guilty in U.S. District Court to a 30-count indictment charging that they misappropriated more than $1.7 million in federal and tribal funds and lied about it to investigators and tribal members.

Newell, who most recently served as tribal governor at Indian Township from 2002 to 2006, and James J. Parisi Jr., 46, of Portland, who served as Indian Township’s finance director from 2003 to 2006, were indicted March 19 by a federal grand jury after a nearly two-year investigation.

Their trial is set to begin Oct. 7 although it very likely will be continued.

The Indian Township tribal government received more than $7 million in federal funds between Oct. 1, 2002, and Sept. 30, 2006, according to the 29-page indictment. Of that amount, Newell and Parisi misapplied nearly $1.7 million for uses not allowed by federal law, the indictment charged.

Among some of the improper uses of the funds were “honoraria” payments made to the governor, lieutenant governor, tribal council members and certain senior employees that were based on vacation time and paid in addition to their regular salaries, according to the indictment. The tribe did not withhold federal or state taxes from these “honoraria” payments or report the extra payments to the federal Internal Revenue Service, a Bangor Daily News article added.

Other candidates vying for a seat on the tribal council were: Richard Stevens, Leslie Nicholas, John Stevens, Victoria Boston, Dana Newell, Kevin Peter Paul and Dean Francis Sr.

At Pleasant Point, voters went to the polls Tuesday and elected three tribal councilors: Darren Paul with 165 votes, Christine Downing with 159 votes and former tribal state Rep. Fred Moore III with 153 votes. Hilda Lewis, the incumbent tribal councilor, was not elected. She garnered 112 votes.

Moore is known locally as Mr. LNG, while Lewis has been vocal in her opposition to the project.

Moore first introduced the idea of a liquefied natural gas terminal to Pleasant Point. After Quoddy Bay LNG struck a deal with the tribe, Moore went to work for them.

In July, Quoddy Bay LNG, the company that hopes to build the LNG terminal on Passamaquoddy tribal land off Route 190, announced it would suspend temporarily the quarterly payments it had been making to the tribe, an earlier BDN story said.

In a press release issued by the company, Quoddy Bay indicated it so far had paid the tribe nearly $800,000, which had been split between the two tribal governments at Pleasant Point and Indian Township. The company said that it would suspend its quarterly payments of $46,875 while the federal and state permit reviews of its development application were on hold, the article added.

The company hopes to resume the federal and state permitting review processes in a few months.

Other candidates who sought seats on the tribal council at Pleasant Point were Caroline Moher and Matthew Lewis. They received 68 and 63 votes respectively. Kani Malsom received 15 write-in votes.

Of the 636 registered voters at Pleasant Point, 295 cast their ballots Tuesday.

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