Former Chairman of Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation Sentenced to 18 Months in Federal Prison
|U.S. Attorney’s Office November 19, 2013|
Deirdre M. Daly, Acting United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, and Patricia M. Ferrick, Special Agent in Charge of the New Haven Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, announced that Michael Thomas, 45, the former chairman of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Council, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Janet Bond Arterton in New Haven to 18 months of imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release, for embezzling from the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation.
On July 24, 2013, a jury found Thomas guilty of one count of theft from an Indian tribal organization and two counts of theft from an Indian tribal government receiving federal funds.
“Mr. Thomas’s embezzlement of more than $100,000 was not only an abuse of his position as chairman of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation but also a theft of federal funds,” stated Acting U.S. Attorney Daly. “The U.S. Attorney’s Office is committed to prosecuting corrupt officials at all levels of government—federal, state, local, and tribal—and I commend the FBI and Department of the Interior’s Office of Inspector General for their diligent investigation of this matter.”
“Today’s sentence is especially important because it holds Mr. Thomas accountable for stealing federal dollars to support a lifestyle which he could have legitimately afforded on his own,” stated FBI Special Agent in Charge Ferrick. “During these particularly severe fiscal times, Mr. Thomas’ abuse of position and unauthorized use of tribal money were done with a sense of entitlement and without ambiguity. The FBI is most appreciative of the efforts of the United States Attorney’s Office and the Department of the Interior’s Office of Inspector General for working with us to investigate and prosecute the corruption of public officials at all levels.”
According to the evidence at trial, between October 2007 and April 2009, Thomas used an American Express card that was issued to him by the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation (MPTN) for official MPTN government purposes to charge more than $100,000 in unauthorized personal expenses. Thomas used the card to pay for monthly satellite television service for his home, satellite radio service for his vehicle, mobile phone service for other individuals, car service to transport his mother to kidney dialysis treatments, and the purchase of personal computers. Thomas knew that the expenses were personal and that his use of the credit card was in violation of a Tribal Council Resolution.
Judge Arterton will issue a restitution order after further court proceedings.
This matter was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and U.S. Department of the Interior-Office of Inspector General. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Christopher Mattei and Douglas Morabito.