Man gets 21 months for stealing from Twenty-Nine Palms Band

The Spotlight 29 Casino in Coachella, California. Photo from Twenty-Nine Palms Band of Mission Indians.

A politically-connected Republican whom the Twenty-Nine Palms Band of Mission Indians compared to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff was sentenced to 21 months in prison for stealing from the California tribe.

David Alan Heslop, a former adviser to Ronald Regan and George H.W. Bush, pleaded guilty to one count of felony conspiracy to commit bribery. He will remain free while he pursues an appeal.

“The tribe was an easy target and defendants took advantage of their lack of sophistication to fleece the tribe in its construction contracts,” federal prosecutors said in a pre-sentencing memo, The San Bernardino Sun reported.

Three people have pleaded guilty to bribery and tax evasion charges. They admitted that they steered contracts at the Spotlight 29 Casino to companies they controlled.

The tribe, however, said the damages were much higher -- $20 million.

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