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Press Release

Former Tribal Official Sentenced for Bribery Scheme

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

A former Tribal government official of the Three Affiliated Tribes of the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation (MHA Nation) was sentenced yesterday to five years in prison for soliciting and accepting bribes and kickbacks from a contractor providing construction services on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation in North Dakota, which is the home of the MHA Nation.

According to court documents, Randall Judge Phelan, 58, of Mandaree, North Dakota, was an elected representative on the Tribal Business Council – the governing body of the MHA Nation – from 2013 to 2020. Beginning around 2013 and continuing through 2020, Phelan solicited and accepted bribes and kickbacks totaling more than $645,000 from a contractor operating on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation. In exchange for payments, Phelan used his official position to help the contractor’s business, including by awarding millions of dollars in contracts, fabricating bids during purportedly competitive bidding processes, advocating for the contractor with other Tribal officials, and facilitating the submission and payment of fraudulent invoices.

In October 2022, Phelan pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds, honest services wire fraud, and bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds.

Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Mac Schneider for the District of North Dakota, and Assistant Director Luis Quesada of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division made the announcement.

The FBI Minnesota Field Office investigated the case.

Trial Attorneys Andrew Tyler and John J. Liolos of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Greenley for the District of North Dakota prosecuted the case.

Updated May 16, 2023

Public Corruption
Financial Fraud
Press Release Number: 23-558