J. Salter makes a good point above about how in our attempt to understand criminal behavior we look for circumstances that might cause someone to break the law. Drugs, alcohol, and gambling are frequently invoked as forcing factors as is severe emotional distress - i.e. "crimes of passion".
That is why the actions of the two biologists are so hard to comprehend and why friends and colleagues are struggling to understand what could have driven the alleged embezzlement. Some would almost rather hear that Levalley has some substance abuse issue that clouded his judgment than think with a clear mind he regularly laundered funds through his firm. If they were "clean, sober and right of mind" their actions are all the more inexcusable.
HSU prof, Mark Colwell, who is quoted in this article is actually the president of Mad River Biologists, While his collaboration with Levalley is mentioned his position with Mad River is not and it seems strange that the president of the company did not notice the large amount of money being laundered through his firm. The same page (on manta.com) that lists Colwell as "President", lists Levalley as "Owner". Tellingly, no name for a "Treasurer" is provided.
Those who feel LeValley's alleged criminal acts are completely out of character are failing to see how being "exceedingly generous" can also be seen as being "overly accommodating". This is not a bad trait to have in business if you are in a service industry and that clearly is how LeValley has made his money as he:
Led ecotours - taking people where they want to go
Sold bird images - showing people what they want to see
Did biological consulting - telling people what they want to hear
It appears he was simply accommodating a client by going along with Raymond's scheme.
And it does strike me as strange that someone who built his career in ecotourism and photography could develop a monopoly for training others in owl and plover research protocols. How the latter could occur would likely have a pretty clear paper trail.
Mitch at 8:51 asks
"why would you try to steal from a group that is giving you a lot of business?"
Levalley''s lawyer said in court that his client thought he was helping the tribe (i.e. he somehow thought that laundering federal funds for a cause he believed in was a good thing to do).
Mad River Biologists was not stealing from a group who could give them a lot of business. They were assisting a contracting officer (who could give them a lot of business) in a scam.
Will be interesting to see if either Levalley or his lawyer provide information on how the funds Levalley was laundering helped the Yurok and why he thought helping out through illegal means was somehow a good thing.
In Print This Week:
Dec 12, 2013
vol XXIV issue 50
The North Coast Journal Weekly
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