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California owl researchers face federal embezzlement charges

The federal government disburses funds to support projects throughout the country that are designed to improve the quality of life for all citizens. Federal dollars are entrusted to the individuals who receive them for good reason.

A group of three California men are now being charged with federal crimes because they are suspected of embezzling federal funds to complete research on the state's spotted owl population. Law enforcement officials believe the men falsified documents in order to pocket over $870,000 over the course of three years.

Most recently, the 49-year-old former director of forestry for the Yurok tribe turned himself in, because there was an outstanding warrant for his arrest in connection to the embezzlement. Like the other two men, who were arrested a short while back, the forestry official pled not guilty to the charges leveled against him. At the time of the report, the man was still in county jail, placed on $1 million bail.

Oftentimes, federal prosecutors wish to bring criminal cases to court, rather than settling on a plea bargain, which appears to be the course of action in this case. When a person faces criminal charges of any nature it is important to proceed in a way that is likely to achieve the best possible outcome, whether by pleading not guilty or negotiating a plea bargain. The hope is that the men involved in this embezzlement case were carefully advised to enter a not guilty plea based on the strength of the prosecution's evidence against them.

While the prosecution prepares their case, the researchers' defense teams will want to work diligently to scrutinize all the facts and conduct a thorough investigation of their own. This way, any weak points in the prosecution's evidence will be revealed with the intent to create serious doubts about the accused individuals' supposed activities.

Source: The Sacramento Bee, "Former Yurok official pleads not guilty," April 6, 2012

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