June 12, 2009

The facts about "Chief Ron"

Universal Pictures and Imagine Entertainment are making a movie about "Chief Ron" Roberts, in which the "noble chief" proves he's an Indian in court. Here are the facts about "Chief Ron" (aka "Golden Eagle") from the New York Times and the Sydney Morning Herald:

Man With Flair for Reinventing Himself Goes a Step Too FarIn the annals of flimflam, surely a special place has been reserved for Ronald A. Roberts, also known as Sachem Golden Eagle of the Western Mohegans.

The Golden Eagle is not flying high right now. Holed up in a dilapidated Catskill resort he bought with other investors, Mr. Roberts, 56, has pleaded guilty to federal charges of submitting false documents and perjury, and is waiting be sentenced on June 17. He faces a maximum of 10 years in prison.

But for several years, prosecutors say, Mr. Roberts pursued the most audacious of schemes: He tried to convince the state and federal governments that he was the descendant of a Mohegan chief and the leader of a lost tribe of American Indians around his hometown of Granville, N.Y.

The federal government says it is just not so, though Mr. Roberts, through his lawyer, continues to claim Indian roots. Being an Indian chief is the latest persona for a man who, over the years, has been an actor, a slate dealer, a country and western singer, a traveling evangelist and a small-town music impresario, acquaintances said.

Mr. Roberts's desire to be known as an Indian appeared to spring from purely financial motives, prosecutors and law enforcement officials said. Recognition from the federal government as a tribe would have entitled him and his associates to run a casino in the Catskills, but he never got that far.

Mr. Roberts even went so far as to submit to Washington a false genealogy, a doctored copy of an 1845 state census of Indians and a forgery of his grandfather's death certificate, all of which, he insisted, proved he was a descendant of prominent Indians on both sides. Federal genealogists who looked into his claims determined that he was actually a descendant of prominent European settlers.
Scams have landed lost tribe's Golden Eagle in the soup and now he's pluckedDeep down, Ronald Roberts must have known that his claim to be Sachem Golden Eagle, leader of a lost tribe of native Americans known as the western Mohegans, was a bit suspect.

But, in an elaborate scam, Roberts created an entire lineage of a fake native American clan spanning eight generations.

As chief of the western Mohegans he managed to persuade a federal judge to stop construction on a $5 million park project by claiming the Government was building on sacred ground.

In 2001 he persuaded Chicago investors to give him $900,000 to build a casino. Last year he sued the Governor of New York for 200 years of rent, claiming that he and state legislators were trespassing every time they went to work.

Next week he will be sentenced to up to 10 years in jail after admitting submitting false documents and perjury.

His bizarre tale started when Roberts claimed membership of the Mashantucket Pequot native Americans in Connecticut in 1996. The Mashantuckets refused, so he moved on to the Mohegans in the same state. When the Mohegans rebuffed him he started a tribe of his own.

He called them the western Mohegans, claiming they were descendants of those who stayed in the Hudson valley in the late 1700s, while others migrated.

He sent a petition to President Bill Clinton, showing how his great-great-grandfather, the Reverend George Smith, had been born to a native American woman, Cynthia Ticomwas. He then set out to make money from his false identity.

Many native Americans live in areas that are, theoretically, independent nations which can enter into treaties with the Government. Many tribes have made money from setting up casinos which are not subject to federal or state gaming laws.

Roberts is the first person to be prosecuted by the Department of the Interior for trying to deceive the tribal-recognition officials at the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
No Prison for 'Indian Chief' in Scheme for Catskills CasinoA man who submitted false documents to federal authorities in a scheme to gain recognition as an American Indian leader and open a casino escaped a prison term on Thursday when a judge sentenced him to six months of house arrest and five years of probation.

The sentence was a rebuff to federal prosecutors, who had argued that Ronald A. Roberts, who calls himself Chief Golden Eagle, should have received 4 to 5 years for trying to hoodwink federal officials in a quest for quick riches.

Mr. Roberts, who still maintains that he is a descendant of Indians even though the documents he presented were forged, had pleaded guilty in February to one count of perjury in a bankruptcy case and one count of filing false documents with the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
Comment:  The "Golden Eagle" name is enough of a tipoff that Roberts is a fraud. Real Indians almost never have names like that.

For more on the subject, see The Facts About Indian Gaming.

Below:  "Chief Ron" Roberts in a headdress from a Plains culture 1,000 miles from New York.


grant1354 said...

Hey Rob - I'm the originating writer of the movie "Chief Ron". I was attracted to his story by the articles you have reprinted (uncredited)verbatim here from the New York Times. I didn't have to do very much research to discover that these artcles contain mostly cheap innuendo, sloppy reporting, and little of what you claim are "facts". I'm surprised that any contributor to this website will have to go see a Hollywood movie to learn the truth about the Native American struggle for rights and recognition.

Rob said...

The links to the original postings provide the credits. The quotes are indented to show they come from these postings. These are standard practices in writing and blogging.

But if it makes you feel better, I'll save you a click and note that the links are to the New York Times. Does that satisfy you?

So the NY Times is filled with cheap innuendo and sloppy reporting? If you say so, but I Googled "Chief Ron" extensively and didn't find anything that contradicted these articles. Certainly nothing that addressed the core issue: whether Roberts was found guilty or not.

So what are the so-called facts that I missed? Spare us your own innuendo and start posting some evidence. Cite and quote the sources you think we should be looking at.

By the way, I've been working in Indian gaming for almost a decade. How about you? If you think the "Western Mohegans" have any chance of building a Catskills casino, I'd say you're sadly mistaken.

I presume my readers will be able to detect a fraudulent movie when they see it. But what does that have to do with Americans in general? I'm concerned about the likelihood of your movie's misleading them, not my readers.

dmarks said...

"So the NY Times is filled with cheap innuendo and sloppy reporting?"

Grant does have a pretty good point on that one.

Elley said...

I am an enrolled member of the Stockbridge Munsee, a Band of Mohican Indians. While it is true that I do not possess all of the impressive skills that Rob Schmidt has listed in hid bio, I feel that I am better qualified to know what Chief Golden Eagle/ Ron Roberts is about. I have read all of the waste that has been written about him, and I wonder why it has not been expelled from the lower intestinal tract, long ago. I am a writer, have stufied journalism, and what you have written about Ron has been written before-word for word, is that still called plagiary? Or an indication that you cannot think for yourself? Perhaps it would be easier for you to comprehend if it came in comic book format. Have you read of how the Chief has gone into schools to answer questions concerning Native traditions? Do you know that his DNA matched that of enrolled members of my Tribe? As an authentic Native American, who was born and brought up on, or near the reservation of my people, I find your comments to be hogwash!

Rob said...

There's no such word as "plagiary." What I've done is quote articles from two sources with links to the originals, a common practice on the Net. As I just explained to Grant.

Despite its occasional mistakes, most journalism experts consider the NY Times the best newspaper in the country. If you or Grant would like to nominate a better news source, DMarks, I'd love to hear (and laugh at) it.

I quoted two articles from the NY Times and one from the Sydney Morning Herald. The odds that they all contain the same mistakes are pretty small, you know.

I'm still waiting for someone to cite or quote anything resembling a fact. If you can't do it, Grant or Elley, just say so and save us some time.

Rob said...

Unlike the "Western Mohegans," the Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohican Indians is a real tribe--in Wisconsin. It's tried to get permission to build a casino on its ancestral land in New York. So far it hasn't succeeded.

If Roberts is a member of the Stockbridge-Munsee Band, Elley, why didn't you say so? In fact, why didn't Roberts say so at his trial? Then we'd be having a different conversation.

Rob said...

A lot of white people go to schools and talk about Indians. Some of them even have Indian blood. That doesn't prove anything.

I know what Roberts' lawyer claimed about his DNA (below). I don't know if that claim was submitted to independent experts or tested in court. As far as I can tell, it remains a claim, not a fact.

And proving that he has Indian blood wouldn't prove that he's a "Western Mohegan." He'd need genealogical evidence for that. I mean real genealogical evidence, not the phony evidence that got him convicted for perjury.


His lawyer, Edward Z. Menkin, said that Mr. Roberts has blood test results that prove he is an American Indian. "Ronald Roberts has more Native American DNA markers in his bloodstream and body than all the Native Americans that testified at the trial," he said.

Rob said...

Re "Perhaps it would be easier for you to comprehend if it came in comic book format": Perhaps it would be easier to comprehend if you actually presented facts and evidence rather than empty claims. You know, citing and quoting your sources the way I've done?

Really, I suggest you try it some time. Put it in any form you wish, but stop talking about it and start doing it.

Anonymous said...

"No such word as 'plagiary'? Look up the word 'plagiarist', defined as "One who publishes the thoughts and writings of another as his own". An individual who lacks the ability to think, or write, for himself. I came across your blog,as I searched for info about Native Americans, when I saw the Chief's name I continued to read.
You write that I should "cite quotes and sources" as you have done. Why must I have the identical
quotes & sources as you, before it is deemed reliable? You state (seemingly, with pride) that you have been working in Indian Gaming for almost 10 years,where were you 11 years ago? What were you doing?
Did you have a blog? It would be nice to see what sort of person you were B.I.G, Before Indian Gaming! The 1988 Indian Gaming Act has created many 'brown nosers' who
have, like that changeable lizard,
changed their atitutdes to hang on to employment that did not exist, prior to Indian Gaming. My suggestion to you; buy yourself a good dictionary, study the laws of stealing the thoughts of others, learn to research your objective before you attempt to write as an authority. You have my sympathy for wasting 50 plus years, just being a CC of someone else.
Have a good one.

Anonymous said...

The 'anonymous' post was, of course, written by Elley. I bet you thought more than 2-3 persons were reading your bull. LOL

dmarks said...

Rob: I think the Washington Post is better, actually. The NYT is the newspaper of Jayson Blaire (an example of its own racist promotions policy trumping any journalistic standards).

Surprisingly, I easily found "plagiary" as a word. But Anon confused it with "plagiarist". They are different words, in fact.

Anon said: "study the laws of stealing the thoughts of others"

I was not aware that any laws covered paranormal events. Only through versions of telepathy can thoughts be stolen. Perhaps with a Vulcan mind-meld. But not in the real world.

Anonymous said...

YIKES! I forgot I was writing to comic book educated individuals out there in cyberspace. Please forgive, I got my info from Black's Law Dictionary, but it was more than likely, older than the 'brains' out there.
Elle again.

Anonymous said...

Ha! this is some funny stuff. nice to see that "elley" aka the "chief" has found the internet. convicted liar, check your Black law book, with no one left to try and fool, aside from himself.
normally i don't mind bad spelling but this is classic stuff "I am a writer, have stufied journalism," chief.
and Grant, likely the chief, if you are the "originating" writer of "chief ron" (not the original writer?) you are in for a rough ride since justin will be rewriting and directing a comedy about the absurdity and mendacity of a simple fraudster trying to convince actual Native Americans and our government that he was an Indian chief from a lost or missing tribe of Mohegans. "chief" ron roberts is an epic joke, such a big joke that hollywood is making a film about him.
Rob i think you've been writing back and forth to the same person so far about this. i think old rob has lots of time on his hands and googles himself all day looking to spread more lies.
funny stuff.

Anonymous said...

Why do individuals attempt to hide their dark side behind a smiling face? Statements such as the author of "Funny stuff"posted, serve to reveal a pathetic individual, who will not see the rose~only the thorns.

Anonymous said...

Hey Rob, what interest is any of this to you and your West Coast self? How about you worry about the problems in San Fran for awhile? I happen know more about this topic than anyone who wrote any article(sorry movie guy, legally I'm not allowed to further discuss), and I can assure you that you have more crime going on in your notoriously gang banging state (and for that matter, probably at your own house) than what's happening a country away from your silly and naive little self. If you want to discriminate against a populous, look in your immediate area, maybe those targets would at least be close enough for you to make a descent shot at.