(Ieweras, whose name means “she helps bring the thunder and lightning,” died on June 4. Facebook photo)
By Jorge Barrera
APTN National News
A U.S. federal judge dismissed an indictment this week against an Akwesasne man who became a fugitive to be with his dying daughter.
James Gray was one of five men indicted in 2012 by federal authorities for allegedly operating a casino illegally on the U.S. side of Akwesasne. Gray was wanted on a federal warrant. He fled Akwesasne following the indictment to be with his 16 year-old daughter Ieweras Gray who was undergoing treatment for leukemia in Ottawa.
Ieweras, whose name means “she helps bring the thunder and lightning,” died on June 4.
Three of the five men named in the indictment were found not guilty by a jury this past December following a six-week trial in Albany, NY.
Gray was recently in Akwesasne to bring his daughter’s ashes back to the community for the funeral ceremony held at the Kanienkehaka Kaianerehkowa Kanonhsesne longhouse. Her ashes will be spread out over the Pacific Ocean off the California coast.
U.S. federal Judge Thomas McAvoy this week granted a request filed by U.S. Attorney Richard Hartunian to dismiss the indictment against Gray and another man, Anthony Laughing. Laughing was set to be retried after falling ill during the initial trial. At one point, he was taken from the courtroom with chest pains.
Hartunian said the motion to dismiss was made “after considering all of the circumstances of this case and in the interest of justice,” according to court documents.
U.S. authorities, including Homeland Security, with the help of the St. Regis Mohawk tribal police, raided the Three Feathers Casino in December 2012. The raid followed an investigation that included the use of undercover officers who visited the casino with hidden cameras.
Thomas Square, one of the indicted men, spent nearly 11 months in jail before the trial because he refused to submit to the authority of the U.S. court system.
In the end, the jury acquitted Square and Roger Jock, who are both from Akwesasne, along with Joseph Hight of Georgia.
The prosecutor’s case took up most of the trial time, while the defence rested its case after one day.