Published On: Wed, Feb 8th, 2012

Tribal members sentenced to Prison

     George Lee Hernandez, 21, an EBCI tribal member, of Cherokee, was sentenced on Friday, Feb. 2 to serve 46 months in prison for robbery related charges, announced Anne M. Tompkins, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina.

     In January 2011, Hernandez pled guilty to a single robbery charge for his participation in the robbery of a Quality Inn Motel in Cherokee. A criminal bill of indictment charged Hernandez and his co-conspirator, Russell Dean McCoy, with the July 2010 robbery of the motel. McCoy was previously sentenced to serve 60 months in prison. Both defendants have been in custody since they were arrested in December 2010.

     In a separate case, Zachariah Lightening Rattler (a/k/a “Zebo”), 33, and Kevin Robert Wahnetah, 22, both EBCI tribal members of Cherokee, were also sentenced on Friday, Feb. 2 for firearms related offenses. The defendants were indicted on Feb. 2, 2011 by a federal grand jury sitting in Asheville.  

     In May 2011, Rattler pled guilty to possession of stolen firearms, and Wahnetah pled guilty to possession of a firearm by a prohibited person (that being an illegal drug user). U.S. District Judge Martin Reidinger sentenced Rattler to serve 51 months in prison. Wahnetah was sentenced to 37 months in prison. Both defendants have been in federal custody and upon designation of a federal facility they will be transferred into custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons where they will serve their federal sentences without the possibility of parole.

     The prosecution for the government was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Don Gast of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Asheville.

– U.S. Attorney’s Office

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