The Region

John Philip Nichols, chief financial adviser to the Cabazon Band of Mission Indians, has been sentenced to four years in state prison for soliciting the contract murders of two Coachella Valley residents. Indio Superior Court Judge Noah Ned Jamin also ordered Nichols, 60, to pay a $5,000 fine. Nichols, who has been a consultant to the 24-member tribe since 1978, pleaded no contest to two felony counts at a preliminary hearing Feb. 22 as part of a plea bargain agreement. No one was harmed in the plot, which was uncovered when one of those who had been solicited notified Indio police of the scheme. Nichols was arrested Jan. 16. A motive for the plot remains unclear. Riverside County Deputy Dist. Atty. Bob Dunn said that Nichols told probation officers that he was "assisting law enforcement in stamping out local drug trafficking." Dunn said there was no truth to Nichols' allegation.

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