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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Colorado

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Six More Defendants Sentenced For Embezzlement from the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe

After this week’s sentencings, a total of 16 defendants have been prosecuted and held responsible for stealing over $1.5 million from the tribe

DURANGO -- After a 3-year investigation into the embezzlement of funds from the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, 16 defendants have been convicted and sentenced for their illegal conduct to include each defendant participating in taking a substantial amount of money from the tribe that was not due to them, announced U.S. Attorney Jason Dunn, FBI Denver Division Special Agent in Charge Dean Phillips and IRS-Criminal Investigation Denver Field Office Special Agent in Charge Steven Osborne. Of these defendants, 11 were Ute Mountain Ute (UMU) tribal members; 5 were not.  Of the 16 sentenced 6 defendants were sentenced this week by U.S. District Court Judge Robert E. Blackburn who was sitting in Durango.

According to court filings as well as arguments made in open court, from at least 2011 through October 2015, Ute Mountain Ute  tribal members were entitled to receive utility benefits from the tribe to pay their utility expenses in annual amounts from $1,200 to $1,500.  Bills or other documentation were required to be submitted along with the application to the tribe's Financial Services Department for processing and payment to the tribal members.  Additionally during the same time period, UMU tribal members had family plan accounts established when the tribal members were children and from which the members could start spending the funds once they reached 18 years of age.  The funds in the family plan accounts, with accrued interest, usually reached approximately $10,000 by the time a member reached 18 years old.  These funds could be used to purchase things such as vehicles, home furnishings, and computers.  As with the utility benefits, the tribal member was required to provide invoices or other documentation to UMU's Financial Services Department in order to request payment from the family plan account.

Beginning in at least 2011, certain employees of the tribe's Financial Services Department caused fraudulent tribal checks to be generated in the names of people selected by the employees.   The people receiving the checks cashed the checks and usually shared the cash with the Financial Services Department employee who provided the check.  Initially, these fraudulent checks were falsely attributed to the utility benefits or family plan accounts of tribal members who did not request or receive the fraudulent checks.  Later, the fraudulent checks were generated without being attributed to any tribal member.  At least 5 of the people who received the fraudulent checks were not tribal members and were not entitled to any tribal benefits. 6 of the defendants sentenced to date were employees in the tribe’s Financial Services Department.

In other instances, the Financial Service Department employees caused embezzled tribal funds to be sent via Western Union to selected recipients who would in turn provide a portion of the money back to the employee who sent the wire.  Defendant Oraleigh Jaramillo also caused embezzled tribal funds to be wired to inmates with the Federal Bureau of Prisons who were not UMU tribal members and not entitled to any UMU tribal funds.

“This was a complex case with many defendants and a large amount of money,” said U.S. Attorney Jason Dunn.  “But we in federal law enforcement have a sacred trust with members of the tribal community and we take that delegation seriously.  Where public corruption exists within the tribes, we will work tirelessly to root it out and to hold accountable those responsible.”

“The FBI aggressively investigates crimes that occur against Native American Tribes.  The sentencing of the defendants in the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe investigation should send a strong message to anyone considering engaging in white collar fraud schemes,” said FBI Denver Special Agent in Charge Dean Phillips. “The FBI will continue to work with our law enforcement counterparts and United States Attorney’s Office to protect our citizens and economy from those engaged in this type of crime. We would like to thank the IRS for their partnership on this case."

“Today’s sentencings demonstrate our collective efforts to enforce the law and ensure public trust,” said Steven Osborne, Special Agent in Charge, Denver Field Office. “IRS Criminal Investigation is committed to unraveling complex financial transactions and money laundering schemes where individuals abuse their positions of trust to unjustly enrich themselves.

Those sentenced this week as part of this case include:

  • Gloria Lee, aka Gloria Rouillard, aka Gloria Lopez – sentenced to 26 months in federal prison, followed by 3 years of supervised release for embezzlement of funds belonging to an Indian tribal organization and money laundering, which includes a restitution order of $1,139,996;
  • Oraleigh Jaramillo aka Oraleigh Hammond – sentenced to 14 months in federal prison, followed by 3 years of supervised release for embezzlement of funds belonging to an Indian tribal organization and money laundering, which includes a restitution order of $309,537;
  • Shirley Ann Deer – sentenced to 15 months in federal prison, followed by 3 years of supervised release for embezzlement of funds belonging to an Indian tribal organization and money laundering, which includes a restitution order of $209,552.47;
  • Terry Jason Arnold – sentenced to 12 months and a day in federal prison, followed by 3 years on supervised release for wrongful receipt of funds belonging to an Indian tribal organization, which includes a restitution order of $140,235.55;
  • Classia Rose Hammond – sentenced to 3 months in federal prison followed by 3 months home confinement as part of 3 years on supervised release for receipt of willfully misapplied funds belonging to an Indian tribal organization, which includes a restitution order of $65,508.56;
  • Terry Lynn Whiteman – sentenced to 3 months in federal prison followed  by 3 months of home confinement as part of 3 years on supervised release for misapplication of funds belonging to Indian tribal organizations, which includes a restitution order of $44,214.01; and

 

Those previously sentenced as a part of this case include:

  • Maurice Nat – sentenced to 41 months in federal prison, to be followed by 3 years on supervised release for receipt of funds belonging to an Indian tribal organization, which includes a restitution order of $136,575;
  • Darrell Jonah Lee – sentenced to 15 months in federal prison, to be followed by 3 years on supervised release for receipt of funds belonging to an Indian tribal organization, which includes restitution of $142,411;
  • Kevin Ryan Lee – sentenced to 5 months in prison, to be followed by 3 years on supervised release for receipt of funds belonging to an Indian tribal organization, which includes restitution of $89,132;
  • Leslie Rouillard – sentenced to 5 months in prison, to be followed by 3 years on supervised release for receipt of funds belonging to an Indian tribal organization, which includes a restitution order of $83,796.09;
  • Freana Bancroft – sentenced to 4 months in prison, plus 4 months home detention as part of 3 years on supervised release for receipt of funds belonging to an Indian tribal organization, which includes a restitution order of $109,820;
  • Jennifer Ann Pioche – 4 months in prison followed by 4 months home detention as part of 3 years on supervised release for receipt of funds belonging to an Indian tribal organization, which includes restitution of $106,497.
  • Colindra House – sentenced to 3 months in prison, plus 3 months home detention as part of 3 years on supervised release for receipt of funds belonging to an Indian tribal organization, which includes a restitution order of $52,401;
  • Loia K. House – sentenced to 3 years probation for illegal receipt of funds belonging to an Indian tribal organization, which includes a restitution order of $22,190;
  • Myreon Lehi – sentenced to 3 years probation for illegal receipt of funds belonging to an Indian tribal organization, which includes restitution of $23,280;
  • Ladelda Lopez aka Ladelda Box – 3 years probation for illegal receipt of funds belonging to an Indian tribal organization, which includes restitution of $34,823.

 

The investigation began in October of 2015 and is expected to conclude soon.  The FBI and IRS-CI conducted the investigation which was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Pegeen Rhyne. 

Topic(s): 
Financial Fraud
Indian Country Law and Justice
Component(s): 
Contact: 
Jeff Dorschner Spokesman, Public Affairs Specialist U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Colorado 303-454-0243 direct; 303-454-044 fax
Updated April 10, 2019