Tex Hall takes witness stand in murder-for-hire trialFormer chairman of Three Affiliated Tribes is grilled
By Jodi Rave Spotted Bear
Native Sun News Exclusive
www.nsweekly.com RICHLAND, Wash. –– A motley crew of court witnesses ranging from heroin dealers, thieves and oil investors, were among dozens of witnesses that helped unravel the story of two murders tied to a Fort Berthold Reservation tribal oil business and land deal. A prosecuting U.S. attorney asked former Three Affiliated Tribes Chairman Tex “Red Tipped Arrow” Hall, a government witness in the murder-for-hire trial in a Washington courtroom how he got into the trucking business. “James Henrikson approached me,” said Hall. “He came to my house and asked for 10 gallons of gas.” The former TAT chairman was one of three key Fort Berthold citizens called to testify in U.S. District Court in Eastern Washington during a trial that would put Hall’s former Bakken oil business partner in prison. On Thursday, Feb. 25, a jury found Henrikson guilty of two murder-for-hire killings, including Doug Carlile of Spokane and Kristopher “K.C.” Clarke bludgeoned to death on Hall’s property and disappeared near the reservation community of Mandaree, N.D. “I was happy to hear there was finally an end,” said Lissa Yellowbird-Chase who cried when the jury pronounced Hendrickson’s 11-count guilty verdict. She has led several searches around Mandaree for Clarke’s body, which still hasn’t been found. It’s Henrikson’s last measure of control by not revealing the burial site, she said. “He’s a sociopath. He’s the kind of person who likes to have the last say.” Henrikson will likely be sentenced in May. The trial in Richland, Wash., began Jan. 26 and ended Tuesday, Feb. 23. In addition to Hall, other witnesses from the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation included Peyton Martin, daughter of Hall’s girlfriend Tiffany Johnson, and Steve Kelly, owner of Trustland Oilfield Services, a business registered with the TAT Tribal Employment Rights Office. Henrikson, now 36, arrived in North Dakota in 2011 already a five-time convicted criminal. Leading up to his recent conviction, he also used the alias names of Cole Johnson, James Hendrickson and James Vanderbilt. Like many, he arrived in North Dakota hoping to cash in on the oil boom. Oil has catapulted the national ranking of millionaires in North Dakota from No. 43 in 2012 to No. 20 in 2014, according to Phoenix Marketing International. David Thompson of Phoenix Global Wealth Monitor attributes the phenomenal rise of North Dakota millionaires to the power of the oil industry’s ability “to quickly create wealth.” The Fort Berthold Reservation sits atop the Bakken and Three Forks shale oil formations. An estimated 30 percent of oil drilled in North Dakota comes from the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation, also known as the Three Affiliated Tribes. Relevant information and reported material comes from court testimony in Richland, Wash., affidavits, interviews and an independent investigation led by Missouri-based Law Firm – a legal probe initiated by the Three Affiliated Tribes Tribal Business Council to view Hall’s misuse of power as chairman. Hall complied on a limited basis with the 2014 investigation with his lawyer noting the chairman “would answer only questions regarding his relationship with James Henrikson and Sarah Creveling.” As chairman, Hall’s Maheshu Energy LLC business stood in competition with other Tribal Employment Rights Office licensed companies, including those owned by TAT tribal citizen Steve Kelly. Hall was asked about the competition with Kelly to work in the oil-related Bakken business boom during the Henrikson trial. “I think Steve felt we were taking contracts from him,” said Hall. Prosecuting U.S. Attorney Aine Ahmed said: “Did you direct Henrikson to kill Steve Kelly?” Hall: “Absolutely not.” Kelly had been working with Henrikson and Sarah Creveling, ending their embittered business ties with a Tribal Employment Rights complaint in December 2011. By then, Henrikson had already knocked on Hall’s door wanting Hall to work with him in trucking business. Hall said he met Henrikson and Creveling in November 2011. The seemingly affable couple arrived in North Dakota from Texas and quickly won Hall over. The month after the two men met, their families spent Christmas together. On Jan. 3, 2012, Hall entered into a joint business venture uniting his Maheshu Energy LLC with Blackstone LLC, a Henrikson-Creveling company with roots in Texas. The chairman agreed to lease his shop at a junction between Mandaree and Watford City, N.D. for $5,000 a month, but he had no written lease agreement, according to Dentons independent investigation. By the end of January, Hall had gotten sick from a burst gall bladder. He was in a hospital in Rapid City, S.D., and then transferred to Bismarck, N.D. and later to Minneapolis. A second contract was signed Feb. 1, 2012 between Maheshu and Blackstone after Hall learned Creveling was the actual owner of Blackstone, not Henrikson. In an interview with the New York Times in late December 2014, Hall blamed Henrikson for cementing their business deal when he was “ill and distracted, bringing flowers and a contract to his hospital room to be signed. ‘I got ripped off and taken advantage of,’” said Hall. During Henrikson's trial, however, Creveling and Hall both said an updated contract had not been signed in the hospital. Hall acknowledged the couple visited him the hospital where Creveling brought him a quart of whiskey, not a contract. “I’m not sure why I got a quart of whiskey,” Hall said. Hall said he did provide a verbal agreement to make a technical change in the contract he signed before he got sick. He had his girlfriend Tiffany Johnson, Maheshu’s chief financial officer at the time, sign a new contract on his behalf. Henrikson’s defense attorney Todd Maybrown asked Hall if he told a Spokane grand jury in July 2014 that he was not the person who signed the contract. Hall: “I don’t remember.” Maybrown: “When did you tell the government that was not your signature?” “About two weeks ago,” said Hall from the witness stand on Feb. 17. As the Blackstone-Maheshu business grew so did casual relations between the Hall and Henrikson families. Hall, Tiffany Johnson, Henrikson, Creveling and other family members vacationed together in Hawaii in October 2012 after Hall recuperated from his hospitalization.
Double-dealing duoCreveling had been operating Maheshu Energy for Hall by February 2012. He created the company in 2007 after he lost his bid for what would have been a third consecutive term as tribal chairman. In the beginning, his company sought oil leases before moving into the trucking business. Creveling testified Maheshu Energy’s income increased substantially once she and her husband brought their trucks to Hall’s property. She said the business grossed about $2 million in profits in 2012. A former employee, Elliott Carney, noted on his LinkedIn account that Blackstone revenue grew by $2 million a month from November 2011 to August 2012, which amounts to $20 million in 10 months. Blackstone had contracts for trucking services with Continental Resources, Kodiak Oil and Gas, XTO Energy and Petro Hunt. Their primary contract was with Maheshu Energy. As profits grew, so did the appetite for spending. Creveling said she spent hundreds of thousands of company money on personal property while earning a $70,000 salary. Creveling and Henrikson bought a house in Watford City N.D. near the Maheshu Energy property. She said her husband also told her to buy expensive jewelry and a Bentley, a luxury car made in Britain. But Creveling and Henrikson wreaked havoc upon Hall who was chairman of the then-increasingly rich Three Affiliated Tribes. Shortly after they started working for him, one of their employees mysteriously disappeared from the shop on the chairman’s property. Posters about the disappearance were plastered in the area. By end of November 2012, Hall said he didn’t want much to do with them; however, he was still in business with Blackstone.
For more stories visit the all new Native Sun News website: Tex Hall takes witness stand in murder-for-hire trial (Jodi Rave Spotted Bear is the founder of the Indigenous Media Freedom Alliance, an organization dedicated to public interest reporting and freedom of information in Indian Country. She is a former reporter for Lee Enterprises. She can be reached at Jodispottedbear@gmail.com) Copyright permission Native Sun News
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