Grand jury indictments reveal new details in tribal standoff
OROVILLE, Calif. - On Wednesday, new details were revealed about the May 2013 standoff at the Tyme Maidu Tribal Offices next to the tribe's Gold Country Casino in Oroville.
A grand jury indictment of 24 individuals was unsealed Wednesday in Butte County Superior Court. The documents detail the takeover and vandalism that lasted nearly 12 hours.
Nineteen people were eventually forcibly removed from the building and arrested after deputies said they had barricaded themselves inside.
Of the 24 suspects, 21 of them appeared in court Wednesday. Nine pleaded not guilty to a charge of felony vandalism, 12 did not enter a plea and three are still at large.
"Law enforcement will be looking for those three individuals or hopefully they'll hear about it and turn themselves in," said Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey. The Grand Jury report says there was a claim that the group had big plans, having brought baseball bats, slingshots and pepper spray. "The Grand Jury heard a claim that besides taking over the office they wanted to take over the casino and all of the bank accounts associated with the casino," said Ramsey. According to the report, some of those taken into custody incorrectly believed they couldn't be arrested because they had tribal sovereignty. "That's a misnomer because both California and Federal law allow local law enforcement to take care of criminal events," said Ramsey.
The incident stemmed from a disenrollment vote to take a number of tribal members off the tribal rolls.
The Grand Jury heard evidence that after the persons were removed, sheriff's deputies and tribal officials noted over $20,000 in damage to the walls, windows, doors, computers and other property inside the offices as a result of the barricading efforts of the occupiers.
Two by fours, chicken wire, bolts, tarps and metal straps were drilled into the interior walls, windows and doors throughout the two buildings housing the tribal administrative offices. Baseball bats, slingshots, bear pepper spray and sleeping bags left behind by the arrestees showed they planned a very long and potentially violent occupation, Ramsey said.
In addition to the physical damage to the offices, Ramsey noted that absentee ballots were removed from ballot boxes inside the offices and shredded. The absentee ballots were to be opened and counted by tribal officials later that same day. .
Ramsey says the defendants face up to three years behind bars, but added that his office would consider no jail time provided the members admit their guilt and pay restitution for the damage to the property and the costs associated with the case's resolution.
The list of those indicted and arraigned Wednesday:
JESSE ANTHONY CASON, 19, Oroville
PAUL RENE CASON, 44, Oroville
CHARLENE RENEA DELAGARZA, 42, Oroville
DAVID DONEZ, SR., 52, Magalia
LINDA DONEZ, 46, Magalia
WILLIAM RAYMOND GRIGSBY, 34, Oroville
DONALD LEW HEDRICK, 44, Biggs
MIKEL HEDRICK, JR., 36, Oroville
MIRIA THAAMAI (HEDRICK), 27, Oroville
EMANUEL ADAM LEE, JR., 28, Oroville
TERESA ANN LEE, 50, Oroville
JULIA LEE MEDRANO, 47, Oroville
TASHENA JUANITA MEDRANO, 28, Oroville
ERIC ANTHONY SARGENT, 27, Chico
JESSE RAY SARGENT, 25, Chico
WAYLON ARON SHIPMAN, 38, Paradise
ROBERTHA MARLENA TIMMONS, 71, Oroville
CAROL LYNN WAGNER, 40, Paradise
CRAIG LEON WAGNER, 49, Magalia
GREG EDWARD WAGNER, 49, Paradise
LEON RONALD WAGNER, 71, Sterling City
The list of those indicted and sought by warrant:
DAVID MANUEL DONEZ, JR., 26, Chico -- $130,000 warrant
KATHY ANN FRAZIER, 51, Berry Creek -- $15,000 warrant
ROBERT LEW WAGNER, JR., 36, Orland -- $30,000 warrant