October 20, 2018
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Penobscot Nation leaders charged with assault

Linda Coan O'Kresik | BDN
Linda Coan O'Kresik | BDN
Kirk Francis, chief of the Penobscot Indian Nation, seen in December 2016.

The chief of the Penobscot Nation, his two adult sons and another tribal leader face assault charges for their involvement in a fight that broke out in the parking lot of a Bangor bar, authorities said.

Around 12:20 a.m on Jan. 13, Chief Kirk Francis, 48, and his sons Kirk Francis Jr., 27, and Tannar Francis, 24, got into a fight with Robert Dana, 51, in the parking lot of the Penobscot Pourhouse at 14 Larkin St., said Bangor Sgt. Wade Betters. Kirk Francis lives in Bangor, but his sons are from Westbrook and Farmington, respectively.

At the time, only Dana, of Indian Island, was charged with assault, Betters said. Francis and his sons were charged last week.

“Though Mr. Dana was the only person charged that night, the case remained under investigation,” Betters said. “Subsequently, officers gathered enough information to support charging Mr. Francis and two of his sons in connection with the fight that night.”

Other people were present for the fight but not directly involved, he said.

Tribal leadership — a partnership between the chief, an elected position, and the elected Tribal Council — governs the Penobscot Nation, which includes 2,040 members, 610 of whom live on the tribe’s Indian Island reservation.

Tonia Dana, Robert’s wife, said the scuffle erupted over long-simmering tensions between Francis and her husband, a member of the Penobscot Nation’s 12-person Tribal Council who has repeatedly sparred with Francis over tribal business.

Robert Dana was taken to the hospital with a split lip and received stitches, Tonia Dana said. Her husband declined to comment on his case, but according to court documents, he is accused of assaulting Tannar Francis.

The three Francis men each face one count of assault and one count of disorderly conduct, which are misdemeanor offenses, Betters said. The older Francis was issued a summons on April 5, and his sons were summoned on April 4, said Betters, who declined to comment further because the case is in the hands of the district attorney’s office.

Kirk Francis did not return messages seeking comment.

Dana waived his formal arraignment and his attorney, Michael Hockenbury of Bangor, entered a not guilty plea on his behalf, according to court documents. Hockenbury did not return a call for comment on Tuesday.

Kirk Francis is set to be arraigned on the charges on May 7, according to Assistant District Attorney Benjamin Fowler. Court dates have yet to be set for his sons. Dana’s next court appearance is set for May 10.

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