MASHPEE, Mass. - Mashpee Wampanoag Chairman Glenn Marshall has been voted out of office after admitting he has a rape conviction and that he had lied about his military service.
At a tribal council meeting Aug. 28, Marshall offered to resign effective in 30 days, but the council voted 9 - 1 to make his resignation effective immediately, tribal spokesman Greg D'Agostino said, according to an Associated Press report.
Vice Chairman Shawn Hendricks replaced Marshall, D'Agostino said.
Marshall handed over control of the tribe to Hendricks Aug. 24 after blog postings and local newspapers revealed that he was convicted in 1981 of raping a 22-year-old visitor to Cape Cod and that he distorted his record of service in Vietnam by saying he served for six years and survived the siege of Khe Sanh in 1968, when records showed he served only 23 months and was still in high school when the Khe Sanh conflict ended.
''I hope we can unify and bring our tribe back together,'' Hendricks said at the Aug. 28 meeting.
The council met first in executive session, then took its vote in public with about 45 tribal members present, according to the AP report. Council member Nellie Ramos cast the single ''no'' vote.
At another meeting following the vote, some members said they would bring up the issue of recalling the council, the report said.
The council will elect a new vice chairman in October. Marshall was in his second four-year term. The next scheduled election is in 2008.
In a prepared statement released Aug. 24, Marshall said he is proud of his service in the Vietnam War ''during that horrific period of history.''
Referring obliquely to the rape conviction, Marshall talked about bad times in the years following the war.
''Like others who were part of the war, the years that followed my service are not something I'm proud of. I am proud of the rehabilitation and turnaround in my life following those years, and am proud of what the tribe has accomplished. I am sorry to have distorted my record and to allow it to stand uncorrected.''
In an exclusive interview with the Boston Globe Aug. 25, Marshall also said he had been convicted for cocaine possession and had lied about working as a police officer.
''Like a lot of veterans from that era, I realize I have my own demons that I need to deal with,'' Marshall said in his statement. Marshall asked Hendricks to take over the responsibilities ''so I can properly deal with the mental and physical issues I'm facing.''
Marshall, 57, chaired the tribe since 2000. The tribe won federal acknowledgement earlier this year.
Marshall's departure comes as the tribe is trying to build a $1 billion casino in Middleborough, where residents voted 2 - 1 in early August to support the tribe's casino efforts.
In a statement Aug. 24, Hendricks said the tribe's business will continue.
''It has been through Glenn's leadership that the tribe has realized federal recognition and all that comes with it. That work will continue,'' Hendricks said. The tribe planned to file a petition Aug. 30 with Interior to take land into trust in Mashpee and Middleborough.
The tribe will seek a gaming compact with the state in order to operate a casino with slot machines, which are currently prohibited in Massachusetts.
Gov. Deval Patrick was slated to announce around Labor Day whether he supports the expansion of gaming, a move that could open up the state to multiple casinos.
The council's move to quickly oust Marshall may help quell a flurry of speculation about the viability of the tribe's casino proposal. But Mashpee spokesman Scott Ferson said Marshall's personal struggles will not affect the tribe's plans.
''Nothing is undone because of this. As much as people point to decisions being made by Glenn Marshall, these are decisions that have always been made by the tribal council and all decisions are backed up by tribal council resolutions,'' Ferson said.
Casino opponents, led by www.casinofacts.org President Richard Young, picketed in front of the Statehouse Aug. 27, carrying signs that said ''No casino,'' ''Gambling is an addiction'' and ''Gambling destroys families,'' according to the Boston Globe. ''We are having a little picket line to let the governor and his staff know that there are people opposed to the casino,'' Young said.
The Web site was filled with stories and comments about Marshall's situation, many of them gloating in tone.
Middleborough Selectman Adam Bond, who led the town's negotiations with the tribe, said casino opponents are trying to use the situation to further their cause. He decried their ''gleeful attacks'' against Marshall.
''You don't sit there and revel in someone's downfall,'' Bond said.
The agreement was between the town and the tribe, not the town and Marshall, but even leaders are fallible human beings, Bond said.
''I'm very disappointed that this happened. He brought dishonor and I don't argue that. But I'm not his judge, nor is he mine. Every human being has their faults and some of them, even with their faults, make great leaders. Think about where Glenn has brought everyone to so far. I mean, there's got to be some redemption in that,'' Bond said.