Jury continues deliberations in tribal case

Posted Nov. 19, 2008, at 6:58 p.m.
Last modified March 20, 2011, at 6:16 a.m.

BANGOR, Maine — A federal jury continued deliberating into the evening hours Wednesday in the case of a former Indian Township Passamaquoddy tribal governor and the tribe’s ex-finance director. If the jury of 11 women and one man do not reach a verdict, they will back Thursday morning to continue combing through thousands of documents presented as evidence in the 11-day trial.

Jurors deliberated for about two hours Tuesday before going home for the night. They returned to U.S. District Court about 8:30 a.m. Wednesday to continue their work.

The trial of Robert L. Newell, 65, of Indian Township and James J. Parisi Jr., 45, of Portland on multiple charges including conspiracy, misapplication of government funds and falsifying documents wound down Tuesday afternoon.

The defendants, who remain free on bail, and their attorneys waited for word that the jury had reached a verdict outside the Margaret Chase Smith federal building on Harlow Street in Bangor.

Newell, who most recently served as tribal governor at Indian Township from 2002 to 2006, and Parisi, who served as the tribe’s finance director from 2003 to 2006, were indicted on March 19 by a federal grand jury on 30 charges after a nearly two-year investigation.

Their trial began Nov. 3 and has focused on thousands of documents from bank records to internal tribal papers to contracts the tribe had with the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Housing and Urban Development and other government agencies.

If convicted, each man faces up to 10 years in federal prison and a fine of up to $250,000 on the more serious charges of misapplication of tribal government funds and misapplication of health care funds. They also could be ordered to pay nearly $2 million in restitution to six federal agencies or departments.

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