Former State Senator Enters a Plea of Guilty to Wire Fraud
United States Attorney Deborah R. Gilg announced that Brenda Council waived Indictment and entered a plea of guilty to a felony Information charging her with Wire Fraud. The plea was entered before the Honorable Lyle E. Strom, Senior United States District Court Judge, in Omaha. The Court ordered a presentence investigation and set sentencing for December 5, 2013.
The Information charged that Council, while a Nebraska State Senator, withdrew campaign funds and used those funds to place wagers at casinos in Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. Council misappropriated approximately $63,000 from her campaign funds between January 2010 and July 2012.
Council solicited campaign contributions from individuals and businesses to facilitate her election and re-election to the Unicameral. Periodic campaign statements accounting for contributions and expenses were filed with the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission. The periodic campaign statements were false in that they failed to account for the electronic transfer of funds at various casinos for the purpose of wagering.
During the calendar years 2010 and 2011 Council placed wagers at casinos in Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. Using an ATM card drawing off her election campaign account, she would withdraw campaign funds from her bank account in Nebraska. Withdrawals would be made from ATM machines in or near the casinos in Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. The electronically withdrawn funds would then be used to wager at the casinos.
Council entered into a plea agreement with the United States. The plea agreement contains a provision wherein the parties agree that the appropriate sentence is a term of probation. Should the Court accept the plea agreement the Court must impose a sentence of probation. The Court retains the discretion to set the length and terms of probation and impose a fine within the statutory limits. The Court may also order restitution.United States Attorney Deborah R. Gilg expressed her appreciation to the Federal Bureau of Investigation for their investigation. Ms. Gilg noted that the felony charge is an appropriate disposition that highlights the serious nature of her actions. Ms. Gilg further noted that Council violated the public trust through her misuse of campaign contributions.