Tribal Executives Indicted in Embezzlement Scheme
United States Attorney Randolph J. Seiler announced that five current and former executives, and one employee, of the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate Tribe’s Big Coulee District were indicted by a federal grand jury on October 6, 2015. The charges include Conspiracy to Commit Embezzlement from an Indian Tribal Organization and two counts of Embezzlement from an Indian Tribal Organization.
Those indicted are as follows:
Carrie Godfrey, age 49, of Sisseton, South Dakota, was Treasurer of the District Executive Board from January 2007 to January 2011, and Secretary of the Board from January 2011 through January 2015.
Gerald German, Jr., age 44, of Peever, South Dakota, was Chairman of the District Executive Board from January 2007 through January 2015.
Ann German, age 57, of Peever, South Dakota, is currently the Big Coulee District Coordinator.
Calvin Max, Sr., age 48, of Sisseton, South Dakota, has been Vice Chairman of the District Executive Board since January 2011.
Gerald Heminger, Jr., age 56, of Sisseton, South Dakota, was Vice Chairman of the District Executive Board from January 2007 to January 2011.
Colette White, age 55, of Peever, South Dakota, has been Treasurer of the District Executive Board since January 2011.
All six appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge William D. Gerdes in Aberdeen, on October 16, 2015, and pled not guilty to the Indictment.
The maximum penalty upon conviction is up to five years in custody and/or a $250,000 fine, followed by three years of supervised release, and $100 to the Federal Crime Victims Fund. Restitution may also be ordered.
The Indictment alleges that the defendants caused checks to be issued on the District’s bank accounts to themselves, to allegedly pay for home repairs and to assist them in paying their income tax liability incurred as a result of the stipends they earned as District executives. None of the checks were properly authorized, and the defendants used the Tribe’s money for their own purposes.
The charges are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
The investigation is being conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the financial crime investigator at the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorney Ann M. Hoffman is prosecuting the case.
The defendants were released pending trial. Trial is scheduled for December 15, 2015.