Tribal Embezzlement Charges Run Rampant

Tribal Embezzlement Charges Run Rampant.

In the past month, a handful of tribal employees from various reservations were indicted for embezzlement.

A superintendent for the Bureau of Indian Affairs on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation, Florence A. White Eagle, 63, pleaded not guilty March 29 to six federal charges related to accusations that she covered up fraudulent loans for tribal credit program employees and also conspired to take money herself, reported the Great Falls Tribune.

White Eagle is the highest-ranking BIA officer on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation to be charged in the nearly decade-long scheme to embezzle more than $1 million from the tribe’s credit department. The alleged ploy lasted from August 1999 through May 2009, reported the Billings Gazette. Five former credit program employees and one BIA employee were convicted in October and November of plotting to steal from the program, which is intended to provide loans to tribal members, reported the Great Falls Tribune.

According to White Eagle’s indictment, she used the money to pay off debts and purchase furniture. White Eagle could face a maximum of 15 years in prison, a fine of $250,000 for bribery, and anywhere from 3 to 5 years in prison for each of the other five charges, stated the Great Falls Tribune.

Meanwhile, the employees of the Narragansett Indian Tribe in Rhode Island face charges tribal embezzlement. Approximately $100,000 in funds was embezzled from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, according to The Day. The 61-year-old former director of the tribe’s housing authority pleaded not guilty in federal court on March 4 to accusations of pocketing the money the tribe received through the department’s Office of Native American Programs between October 2008 and June 2009. If convicted, Rosilyn Brown faces up to 10 years in federal prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release.

And on the Gila River Indian reservation, two tribal members are accused of embezzling more than $32,000 from the tribal enterprise the Lone Butte Industrial Development Corporation. Each could face five years in prison, a $250,000 fine or both, according to a press release by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Arizona.

Franklin Joseph Jackson, Sr., 62, of Bapchule, Arizona, and Lloyd Notah, Jr., 63, of Sacaton, Arizona, were indicted by a federal grand jury in Phoenix on separate counts of Embezzlement From a Tribal Organization.

From September 15, 2007 through March 4, 2009, Jackson served as a board member on the Lone Butte Industrial Development Corporation. During that time, he allegedly embezzled nearly $17,000 that belonged to the tribal organization, stated his indictment. Notah is accused of pocketing more than $15,000 as well as filing fraudulent expense and stipend claims, while serving as a board member from September 26, 2007 to March 7, 2009.

The development corporation aims to attract businesses to the Lone Butte area located in the Phoenix metropolitan area. “The people of the Gila River Indian Community put their trust in these defendants, and that trust was violated,” U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke said in a statement. “This office will not tolerate corruption and self-dealing at any level of government service. We and our partners at the FBI will continue to aggressively combat public corruption wherever it exists.”