Judge dismisses charges against Kaweah Nation defendant

By Roxana Hegeman
Wichita, Kansas (AP) 3-08

A federal judge dismissed an indictment late February against a woman who had been accused of taking part in a scheme to sell Kaweah Indian Nation memberships to immigrants with the promise that the documents would make them American citizens.

U.S. District Judge Wesley Brown dismissed without prejudice the indictment against Raynal N. Williams at the request of prosecutors, who told him in court papers that the dismissal would be “in the interests of justice.”

Williams had been charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States and harboring illegal aliens.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Brent Anderson declined to comment on why the government dropped its indictment against Williams. But he noted that a dismissal without prejudice means any charges within the applicable statute of limitations can be pursued later.

Williams’ defense attorney, Steven Joseph, could not be immediately reached for comment.

In September, a federal grand jury indicted 11 people who worked for the Kaweah Indian Nation. The 17-count indictment alleged the Kaweah Indian Nation marketed tribal memberships to legal and illegal immigrants across the nation – including in Nebraska – by saying the documents conferred U.S. citizenship and would allow immigrants to obtain other documents and benefits, including Social Security cards.

The Bureau of Indian Affairs previously has ruled that the tribe’s leader, Malcolm L. Webber, also known as Grand Chief Thunderbird IV, is not an American Indian and his tribe is not an American Indian tribe.

In a separate but related case, U.S. District Judge Monti Belot also dismissed without prejudice immigration charges against Angel Zamora and his wife, Eudiges Del Carmen Zamora.

Prosecutors had asked for that dismissal because the Zamoras already were charged in the Kaweah Indian Nation case, and the two could more efficiently be prosecuted under the broader case.

The trial against the Kaweah Indian Nation and the remaining 10 defendants, including the Zamoras, is scheduled to begin Aug. 5.