Cherokee Phoenix, cherokeephoenix.org
BYLINE: CHRISTINA GOOD VOICE, Senior Reporter
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TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – A former reserve deputy with Cherokee Nation security was charged March 22 with possession of stolen firearms, embezzlement and theft from an Indian tribal organization.
CN Marshal Sharon Wright told the Tribal Council on March 31 that Mark Allen Cummins Jr., 31, was arraigned in federal court in Muskogee for stealing firearms from the marshal service’s supplies, clearing up speculation that he stole weapons from the agency’s evidence room.
In a news release, U.S. Attorney Mark Green said Cummins was named in a sealed indictment, which was returned March 16 by a grand jury. According to the indictment, Cummins possessed, concealed, stored, bartered, sold and disposed of stolen firearms he had taken from the CNMS when he was employed as a reserve deputy.
U.S. Magistrate Steven Shreder accepted Cummins’ not guilty plea, and Cummins was released on house arrest and electronic monitoring pending a May 2 jury trial before Chief District Judge James Payne.
If convicted, Cummins faces a possible 10-year sentence and/or $250,000 fine on the firearms count, and a possible five-year prison sentence and/or $250,000 fine on the charge of embezzlement and theft from an Indian tribal organization.
First Assistant U.S. Attorney Doug Horn is prosecuting the case against Cummins.
Cummins was charged following an investigation by the CN Marshal Service and Bureau of Indian Affairs.
“The Cherokee Nation Marshal Service initiated the criminal investigation, which resulted in a federal investigation conducted by the BIA, prosecution and ultimately a grand jury indictment,” said Cherokee Nation Marshal Sharon Wright in a statement. “Due to the seriousness of the loss, the Cherokee Nation Marshal Service has implemented process and accountability standards to enhance the supply and equipment inventory systems to deter future thefts from Cherokee Nation.”
Wright added that the BIA also audited the CNMS processes.
“They did that the first of the month. We ended up with a 93 percent overall. We probably ended up with that 93 percent because we’ve been working with our own internal audit and compliance.”
Wright said the BIA was holding some CNMS evidence after she requested the agency to perform an evidence room audit in August.
“Before our evidence was held by the case, we had a lot of evidence that was probably state evidence because we worked the case,” Wright said. “What we have done is work with the local agencies, and have got all that evidence back to them. So now the evidence that’s in our evidence locker is a very small amount and more able to keep record of.”
The CNMS implemented all the systems recommended by the BIA, and it’s all accounted for, she said.
“They come once a month and audit us and to make sure we’re keeping it all intact,” Wright said. “The last piece is that we received some funding and have made the requisition to purchase an evidence system that matches up to the OSBI’s (Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation), so when we scan it in it’ll scan in the same with the OSBI’s so there won’t be two tracking numbers.”
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