Coquille Tribe of Oregon


A federal jury acquitted former tribal development leader Bruce Anderson, 50, accused of environmental crimes. "There's no torture worse than this" Anderson said at acquittal June 29. "What the tribe did to me was sick. They eat their young, that tribe." Federal prosecutors accused Anderson of illegally disposing of asbestos when he was in charge of the Coquille Economic Development Corp. In 1995, the tribal agency destroyed an aging Coos Bay plywood mill and converted it into The Mill Casino - one of many ventures meant to bring prosperity to the economically depressed tribe. Prosecutors said Anderson, pressing ahead with casino deadlines, ignored worker safety standards clearly set by federal law. They also charged him with lying to an EPA investigator about the asbestos. Anderson testified that he didn't learn of workers' exposure until federal agents began their investigation. Once considered the tribe's economic savior, tribal leaders fired Anderson in September 1996 amid the EPA investigation and a separate federal financial investigation. Federal auditors contend the tribe - at Anderson's direction - misused more than $800,000 the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development earmarked for tribal housing projects. A federal criminal investigation into the housing matter is ongoing.