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Date: Wed, 08 Dec 1999 23:05:45 -0600
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Subject: Treasury Admits Destroying More Indian Trust Funds Records 
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Dec 8, 1999 - 10:13 PM 

Treasury Admits Destroying More Indian Trust Funds Records 
By Matt Kelley
Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) - After a federal judge chided the Treasury Department for
covering up the shredding of 162 boxes of records, government lawyers admit
the department destroyed still more potential evidence in a lawsuit over
American Indian trust funds. 

The destruction of computerized check records was disclosed Tuesday in a
letter to a court-appointed investigator overseeing documents in the case.
The Associated Press obtained a copy of the letter Wednesday. 

On Monday, U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth accused Treasury Department
lawyers of lying to him about trust fund records. The judge released a
report by the investigator saying government lawyers kept quiet about the
document shredding for more than three months. 

"It's just weird that a few days after the report, there's another
revelation they destroyed additional information," said Keith Harper, a
lawyer for Indians suing the government, claiming multibillion-dollar
mismanagement of their trust accounts. 

Justice Department lawyer Brian Ferrell told the investigator, Alan
Balaran, in the letter that Treasury Department officials "recently
discovered" the deletion of computer files. In June 1998, Ferrell wrote,
Treasury workers deleted information older than seven years from the
department's check payment and reconciliation system. 

Information from that system could have helped track payments made to
Indian trust account holders, Harper said. 

In a letter to Ferrell, Treasury Department lawyer Walter Eccard said he
didn't discover the June 1998 data deletions until after Nov. 23. On that
day, Eccard had told Ferrell that "preliminary information" indicated no
such check information had been destroyed. 

The Treasury Department has since halted its routine purges of old
information from that computer system, Eccard wrote to Ferrell. 

Ferrell did not return a telephone message seeking comment Wednesday evening. 

In his report Monday, Balaran said Treasury Department lawyers "at a
minimum" violated their oaths as attorneys by waiting more than 14 weeks to
tell Lamberth about the shredding of 162 boxes of files. Those files likely
contained copies of checks to Indian account holders that were never
cashed, Balaran's report said. 

The shredding started in November 1998 on the same day Treasury Department
officials were telling Lamberth about destroying microfilm. In February,
Lamberth held then-Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin and Interior Secretary
Bruce Babbitt in contempt of court for their agencies' missteps in turning
over documents. 

Lamberth wrote Monday that he was "deeply disturbed" by the delay and
accused government lawyers of making false assurances that the document
problems had been solved. 

The Indians' lawyers said last month they would seek another contempt
citation after Balaran found trust fund documents dumped into a shed with
used tires and other debris on a North Dakota reservation. 

AP-ES-12-08-99 2008EST 

Reprinted under the Fair Use doctrine 
of international copyright law.
           Tsonkwadiyonrat (We are ONE Spirit)

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