Heartland Businessman Claims False Heritage March 11, 2003 at 10:26 PM CST - Updated June 19 at 7:05 PM Heartland Businessman Claims False HeritageBy: Randal Kamm (Poplar Bluff, MO)--A Poplar Bluff businessman who pretended to be an American Indian has agreed to pay a half million dollar fine. 47-year old Michael Persons, owner of KAJACS Contractors Inc., got $17-million in federal contracts after claiming he was a descendant of the Cherokee tribe. He was accepted as a member of the tribe in 1998, claiming to be related to a Cherokee named Mary White. However, an investigation revealed that she is not the same Mary White who was accepted by the tribe as proof of Persons' heritage. It turns out the whole thing was just a scheme. Persons claimed to be a Native American so he could bid on building contracts intended for economically and socially disadvantaged businesses. A hoax that will cost Persons $500,000 in federal fines.