An attorney has been indicted on charges of accepting kickbacks from associates who received work from his client, an Indian tribe in California.
Gary Edward Kovall, a graduate of Loyola Law School, Los Angeles, who now lives in Ely, Minn., has been licensed to practice in California since 1976. He voluntarily became inactive on Jan. 9 of this year, according to the State Bar of California.
Kovall, 66, was legal counsel of the Twenty-Nine Palms Band of Mission Indians, whose reservation includes land in the Mojave Desert. The tribe receives hundreds of thousands of dollars from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, according to the May 9 indictment.
Federal prosecutors allege that Kovall told the tribe to set up a limited liability company to buy real estate and then advised it to hire his associate to serve as its manager. He also allegedly recommended a general contractor to represent the company in a construction project at the Spotlight 29 Casino, which once was co-owned by Donald Trump.
Both men, after receiving the jobs, paid kickbacks to Kovall through his wife, Peggy Anne Shambaugh, according to prosecutors. In addition to Kovall, Shambaugh was indicted along with the associate, David Alan Heslop, and general contractor, Paul Phillip Bardos. All four were scheduled to be arraigned on May 11.
“This case demonstrates that our commitment extends to vigorously pursuing cases against unscrupulous individuals who abuse their positions to take advantage of Native American tribes,” said U.S. Attorney André Birotte Jr in Los Angeles.
Prosecutors charged all four with one count associated with a conspiracy that lasted from 2006 to 2008; Kovall, Bardos and Shambaugh are charged with eight counts of bribery; and Heslop is charged with 16 counts of bribery. Bardos, Heslop and Shambaugh also face money laundering charges.
Kovall’s attorney, Edward Robinson of the Law Office of Edward M. Robinson in Torrance, Calif., did not return a call for comment. Calls to attorneys for the other defendants weren’t returned.
Contact Amanda Bronstad at firstname.lastname@example.org.