« Continue Browsing

e-mail article Print     e-mail article E-mail

Associated Press, Published May 03 2013

Dakotas tribal official sentenced for embezzling

ABERDEEN, S.D. – A former district Sisseton Wahpeton Sioux district chairman has been sentenced to 1½ years in prison for embezzling from the Dakotas tribe, in a scheme federal investigators say involved four tribal officials.

Lloyd LaBelle Jr., 53, former chairman of the reservation’s Heipa-Veblen District, also was ordered this week to spend three years on supervised release following his prison term and to pay nearly $350,000 in restitution together with other defendants, the American News reported.

The four officials stole the money between January 2007 and January 2009, often meeting at a tribal casino to issue checks to themselves and immediately cash them, according to federal investigators.

District money is supposed to be used to benefit the youth, elderly and disabled members of the district.

LaBelle pleaded guilty last November to a federal felony count of aiding and abetting misapplication of tribal funds. The maximum punishment for the crime is five years in prison, a $250,000 fine and restitution.

Jaqueline Wanna, 62, the district’s former vice chairwoman, and Tammie Strutz, 52, the former treasurer, both have pleaded guilty to the same charge but have yet to be sentenced.

A jury earlier this year convicted Charlene Wanna, 61, former district secretary, of the same charge. She was sentenced last month to 33 months in prison, or nearly three years, and ordered to help make restitution.