Thomas Mathews. the former vice chairman of the Quapaw Tribe, is seen on a photo posted on Facebook.

Former vice chairman of Quapaw Tribe sentenced in sex offender case

A former leader of the Quapaw Tribe has been sentenced to 10 years in federal prison for attempting to engage in sexual activity with a minor.

Thomas Crawfish Mathews, 35, pleaded guilty to one count of attempted enticement of a minor. He admitted that he used a social media application on his phone to make contact with a person he believed was under the age of 13.

"In the communications, I discussed unlawful sexual relations with the person and proposed a related in-person meeting," Mathews, who was serving as vice chairman of his tribe when he was indicted, wrote in his plea agreement.

After acknowledging his guilt, Mathews submitted a slew of letters of support ahead of his sentencing. Despite the nature of his crime, one friend described him as “loving and deeply caring father” while others, including his mother, portrayed him as someone with a "family-first attitude," according to a memorandum from his attorney.

Federal prosecutors believe otherwise. R. Trent Shores, who serves as the U.S. Attorney for Northern Oklahoma, called Mathews a danger to young people.

“This defendant deserves every day of his 120 month sentence because of his reprehensible criminal acts," Shores, who is a citizen of the Choctaw Nation, said in a press release on Wednesday, when Mathews was sentenced.

"Child predators are a scourge upon society," Shores added. "We will protect children in northeastern Oklahoma from predators like Thomas Mathews.”

In addition to the 10-year sentence, Mathews was ordered to pay a special assessment of $5,100. His attorney had argued against any monetary penalties, describing him as "indigent" and owing "significant debt -- including child support—with no foreseeable ability to repay."

"Bankruptcy is likely imminent for he and his wife," his attorney wrote in the sentencing memorandum. His spouse is an elected leader and an employee for another tribe based in Oklahoma.

According to minutes from the sentencing hearing on Wednesday, Mathews was already in custody of the U.S. Marshals. He had previously been out on bond even though the federal government tried to have him detained back in early January, a request rejected by the judge at the time.

His attorney noted that he had "appeared at numerous court hearings" in Oklahoma state court, where he has been charged with child neglect and possession of marijuana. He later failed to show up to a proceeding on March 8 and a bench warrant was issued, according to online record retrieved on Wednesday.

But he couldn't have made it to the state hearing -- he was taken into custody following his guilty plea in the federal case on March 6, according to the minutes from the proceeding.

Following completion of his federal sentence, Mathews must register as a sex offender, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.

Mathews is the son of J.R. Mathews, a former chairman and vice chairman of the tribe. The elder Mathews was forced to resign as vice chair in 2010 following allegations of wrongdoing involving the tribe's gaming enterprise. He later acknowledged he quit because he was sending sexually explicit messages to a gaming employee.

Following news of the indictment last November, the tribe called on Mathews to resign -- he eventually stepped down. The vice chair post is now held by Callie Darr, who took the seat during a special election on April 14.

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Quapaw Tribe calls for resignation of vice chairman following criminal indictment (November 15, 2017)