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July 23, 2002
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Samantha Gingold 301-469-8712 or 202-297-2519
PLAINTIFFS IN COBELL V. NORTON LITIGATION FILE CRIMINAL CONTEMPT CHARGES AGAINST EDWARD B. COHEN, FORMER INTERIOR DEPUTY SOLICITOR IN THE CLINTON ADMINISTRATION, FOR DESTROYING TRUST RECORDS
Late last night, plaintiffs in the 6-year old multi-billion dollar Cobell v. Norton trust litigation filed the first in a series of bills of particulars against government officials who are the subject of pending contempt charges. The filing seeks to hold former Deputy Solicitor Edward Cohen in criminal contempt for destroying massive quantities of trust records that U.S. District Court Judge Royce C. Lamberth ordered produced.
Based upon findings of the Special Master and other evidence, plaintiffs believe that Mr. Cohen knowingly, willfully, and unlawfully destroyed e-mail and other electronic records in violation of Court orders. The former Deputy Solicitor is among more than fifty current and former government officials who face civil or criminal contempt charges, including Secretary of Interior Gale Norton. Former Treasury Secretary Rubin and former Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt have already been held in contempt in this litigation for their failure to produce trust documents and their cover-up of that failure.
Judge Lamberth's Special Master has already found that under the direction of Mr. Cohen, the Solicitor's Office systematically destroyed e-mail back-up tapes in violation of court orders and concealed such destruction from the Court and plaintiffs. This has had the effect of further crippling the ability of the government to account for billions of dollars in oil, gas, coal, timber and other revenue derived from more than 11 million acres of land held in trust for the benefit of 500,000 current individual Indian trust beneficiaries.
Elouise Cobell, the lead plaintiff, expressed disgust with the continuing misconduct of the government in this litigation:
"The continuing lack of respect for a United States District Court Judge and the utter disdain that government officials have for 500,000 individual Indian trust beneficiaries is a disgrace. Why the White House relentlessly defends government officials who engage in unlawful and contemptuous conduct at the same time it condemns and prosecutes that same conduct in the private sector is incomprehensible."
Cobell v Norton is a class action suit against the federal government regarding mismanagement of IIM [Individual Indian Monies] trust accounts (billions of dollars in oil, gas, coal, timber and other revenue derived from more than 11 million acres of land held in trust for the benefit of 500,000 current individual Indian trust beneficiaries)
This Site first became aware of this IMPORTANT lawsuit (for everyone) when an email with the following article arrived the first of March, 2001.
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