News and Press Releases

Former Spirit Lake Tribal Officer and Employee Sentenced for Illegally Receiving Fuel Assistance

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 23, 2012

FARGO - U.S. Attorney Timothy Q. Purdon announced that on April 23, 2012,Justin Yankton and Brooke Black, of Fort Totten, N.D., were sentenced by U.S. District Judge Ralph R. Erickson on charges of theft from an Indian Tribal organization.

Yankton, 38, was found guilty by a 12-person jury on Jan. 25, 2012, of theft from an Indian Tribal organization. Black, 29, pleaded guilty on Jan. 26, 2012, to a misdemeanor charge.

Judge Erickson sentenced Yankton to two years of probation. Yankton was ordered to pay a $1,000 fine, to pay restitution of $4,990, joint and several with Black, and to pay a $100 special assessment to the Crime Victim's Fund. Yankton was ordered to complete 200 hours of community service.

Judge Erickson sentenced Black to two years of probation. Black was ordered to pay restitution of $4,990, joint and several with Yankton, and to pay a $25 special assessment to the Crime Victim's Fund. Black was ordered to complete 60 hours of community service.

Yankton and Black, together with their children, shared a residence in Fort Totten on the Spirit Lake Indian Reservation. Black, who was employed with the Spirit Lake Food Distribution Program, applied to receive financial assistance from the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LiHeap). This program is intended to provide financial assistance during the winter heating season to low income and poverty level homes of the reservation. In that application, Black purposely omitted the name and
income of Yankton. Because of this omission, the Yankton/Black home illegally qualified to receive home heating financial assistance. Yankton, as the secretary/treasurer of the Spirit Lake Tribal Council, knew their household was improperly receiving fuel assistance and at times actually ordered fuel to be delivered under Black’s account. The incidents occurred from October 2008 through March 2011 on the Spirit Lake Indian Reservation.

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Janice M. Morley and Brett Shasky prosecuted the cases.

 

 

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