By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
Phillip S. Armachain Sr., 50, an EBCI tribal member, has pleaded guilty to a felony charge of forced labor. According to court documents, he entered the plea on Jan. 29 in U.S. District Court to count five as outlined in a Dec. 5, 2017 Second Superseding Bill of Indictment.
According to a factual basis in the case, entered in federal court on Jan. 23, “In or about November 2016, an adult female identified herein as AB was being held in the Cherokee Tribal Detention Facility following her arrest for Cherokee Tribal Court charges. She contacted the defendant and he agreed to post bond for her.”
According to the factual basis, Armachain Sr. secured AB’s release from jail and then drove her to his home. “Once inside his house, the defendant started kissing AB and removing her clothes. He informed her that if she would have sex with him he would forgive the fee she owed him for having executed the bond. AB was very familiar with bond procedures and feared that if she did not have intercourse with the defendant he would surrender her back into custody. AB thereby felt pressured to engage in actions that she otherwise would not have done. Therefore, in order to ensure that the defendant would not surrender her back into custody, and to have the fee forgiven, she engaged in sexual intercourse with the defendant.”
The charge has a maximum sentence of 20 years and a $250,000 fine, but the plea agreement states that the Applicable Sentencing Guideline range agreed upon is 30 to 37 months. An official date of sentencing has not been set by press time.
The Second Superseding Bill of Indictment alleged that Armachain Sr. engaged in a sexual act with a minor between the age of 12 and 16.
The minor’s mother was also named in the Indictment along with Armachain Sr. and was charged with three counts of Sexual Abuse of a Minor or Ward. The One Feather does not report the names of victims of sexual abuse so the mother’s name is omitted from this report to protect the identity of the minor.
The mother pleaded guilty to one count of misprision of felony in January which is defined as someone “having knowledge of the actual commission of a felony cognizable by a court of the United States, conceals and does not as soon as possible make known the same to some judge or other person in civil or military authority…” The charge carries a maximum sentence of three years in prison.
Armachain Sr. was originally arrested by federal officials on May 10, 2017 after being named in a criminal complaint alleging the charges of forced labor and sexual abuse of a minor in Indian Country.
The Complaint alleged, “The Cherokee Indian Police Department (CIPD) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) have learned that enrolled members of the EBCI doing business with Armachain are sending their per capita casino distribution checks to Armachain as collateral for personal loans and to repay bond fees. Additionally, three women have disclosed that they participated in sexual intercourse or other sexual acts with Armachain in return for their bond fees or to have their personal loans from Armachain paid.”
It continued, “Armachain is also known to loan money at an interest rate of one hundred percent.”
The Complaint further alleged that Armachain instructed individuals to change the address to which their EBCI per capita distribution was sent to his Post Office box, and it is went on to allege that he “requests power of attorney from the loan recipients in order to cash the per capita checks”.
According to the Complaint, over 300 checks, totaling over 150 EBCI tribal members, were mailed to his Post Office box in the year 2015.