September 22, 2019
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Penobscot chief, sons plead not guilty in parking lot fracas

Brian Feulner | File
Brian Feulner | File
Penobscot Nation Chief Kirk Francis

The Penobscot Nation chief and his two adult sons have pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor charges of assault and disorderly conduct stemming from a January parking lot fracas in Bangor with another tribal council leader.

Chief Kirk Francis, 48, of Bangor and his sons Kirk Francis Jr., 27, of Westbrook and Tannar Francis, 25, of Farmington allegedly got into a fight with Robert Dana, 51, of Indian Island in the parking lot of a Bangor bar.

Dana also has pleaded not guilty to the same charges.

The dispute stemmed from long-simmering tensions between Francis and Dana, a member of the Penobscot Nation’s 12-person Tribal Council, over tribal business, Dana’s wife, Tonia Dana, 45, of Indian Island said last month. She also said her husband suffered a split lip that required stitches as a result of the fight.

None of the men appeared at the Penobscot Judicial Center for arraignment, according to the clerk’s office. Attorneys for all four men pleaded not guilty to the charges.

No trial dates have been set. Dana’s next court date is June 12. The Francis men are set to appear July 10.

Dana was charged at about 12:20 a.m on Jan. 13, shortly after the incident, Bangor Sgt. Wade Betters, spokesman for the department, said recently.

Francis and his sons were charged last month following further investigation.

Other people witnessed the fracas in the parking lot of the Penobscot Pourhouse at 14 Larkin St., but were not directly involved, Betters 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.

A.J. Greif, the Bangor attorney who represents all three Francis men, predicted Monday in an email that the charges against his clients would be dismissed or a jury would find them not guilty.

“Every neutral witness makes it clear that Robert Dana sucker punched and tackled Kirk Francis’s son, Tannar, and that Kirk Francis assaulted no one,” Greif said. “Tannar hit Robert Dana in simple self defense.

“Robert Dana’s [wife] has hounded the police and the [district attorney] to bring charges against Kirk and his sons,” the attorney continued. “These misdemeanor charges were brought simply to put an end to her campaign of vengeance.”

Dana’s Bangor attorney, Michael Hockenbury, disagreed with Greif’s interpretation of the events.

“The district attorney files these charges after the police conduct a thorough investigation,” Hockenbury said Monday in an email. “In this case, upon further investigation by the Bangor [Police Department], it became apparent that the charges against his clients were warranted.”

Messages left at the Penobscot County district attorney’s office were not immediately returned Monday.

If convicted, the men face up to a year in prison and fines of to $2,000 on the assault charges. The defendants face up to six months in jail and fines of up to $1,000 on the disorderly conduct charges, if convicted.

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