QUINALT TRIBAL MEMBER AND EMPLOYEE PLEADS GUILTY TO THEFT FROM THE TRIBE
Defendant Stole Gift Cards Intended for Tribal Members and Used for Own Benefit
AARON TODD BRYAN, 36, of Taholah, Washington, on the Quinalt Indian Reservation, pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court in Tacoma to Theft from a Tribal Organization Receiving Federal Funds. BRYAN was a tribal member and an employee of the Quinalt Tribe, working as a supervisor of the Employment and Training Program at the Taholah Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. BRYAN admitted today that he stole more than $5,000 in gift cards from the program while employed there.
According to the facts admitted in the plea agreement, BRYAN was supposed to provide gift cards purchased by the Quinalt Tribe to tribal members who had achieved certain milestones such as maintaining steady employment. The Quinalt Tribe receives approximately $1.6 million of federal funds from the TANF program, and spends about $25,000 every five months to purchase the gift cards from Wal-Mart. Caseworkers are assigned a certain number of cards to provide to clients as part of the incentive program. In February 2008, a Quinalt Tribal member told BRYAN’s supervisor that BYRAN was trading gift cards for drugs. An audit of BRYAN’s gift cards revealed that more than $5,000 worth were missing and unaccounted for. Thirty cards were on hand but had a zero balance. BYRAN used some of the TANF gift cards assigned to him for his own personal use and used others to trade for prescription drugs. BRYAN was terminated from his employment February 6, 2008.
Theft from Tribal Organization Receiving Federal Funds is punishable by up to ten years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. BRYAN is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Ronald B. Leighton on April 2, 2010.
The case was investigated by the Quinalt Tribal Police and the FBI.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney J. Tate London. Mr. London serves as the Tribal Liaison for the United States Attorney’s Office.
For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney’s Office, at (206) 553-4110 or Emily.Langlie@USDOJ.Gov.