New Iberia Woman Pleads Guilty to Stealing from a Chitimacha Tribal Business
LAFAYETTE, LA—United States Attorney Stephanie A. Finley announced that a New Iberia woman pleaded guilty Thursday to stealing from a Chitimacha tribal business.
Rebecca Bacas, 40, of New Iberia, La., pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Richard T. Haik to one count of theft from an Indian tribal organization. According to the guilty plea, Bacas conducted a scheme from December 30, 2011 to January 12, 2012 to steal $1,630.50 from the Chitimacha Trading Post in Charenton, La., by cashing what appeared to be three payroll checks that turned out to be worthless. Bacas stole two checks bearing the unauthorized digital signature of the account owner and made them payable to herself in amounts that exceeded the balance of the small business account on which the checks were drawn. She also cashed a third check that also purported to be a payroll check drawn on a business account closed within two weeks because it had been overdrawn.
Bacas faces up to five years in prison, three years’ supervised release, a $250,000 fine and restitution. A sentencing date was not set.
Jurisdiction in Indian Country is based upon the unique sovereign relationship between the federal government and Indian tribes. Congress has extended the territorial jurisdiction of the United States to major crimes committed against Native Americans that take place in Indian Country, which includes all property that the government holds in trust or use by officially recognized Native American tribes. The U.S. Attorney’s Office prosecutes all major crimes and misdemeanor cases arising in Indian Country that are within the jurisdiction of this office.
The FBI and the Chitimacha Tribal Police Department conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph T. Mickel is prosecuting the case.