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Press Release

Former Winnebago Tribal Chairman Sentenced for Theft from an Indian Gaming Establishment

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Nebraska

Acting United States Attorney Robert C. Stuart announced today that on December 4, 2017, Chief United States District Court Judge Laurie Smith Camp sentenced John Blackhawk, age 63, of Winnebago, Nebraska for his conviction for theft from an Indian gaming establishment.  Blackhawk was sentenced to five years of probation and 150 hours of community service.  He was further ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $36,000.


Blackhawk was a member of the tribal council of the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska and served in an officer capacity as the council’s Chairman.  Beginning in 2013 and continuing through September of 2014, Blackhawk began taking unauthorized disbursements from the WinnaVegas Casino and Resort in the total amount of $36,000.  These disbursements were in the form of gift certificates which he did not pay for and deposits to a re-loadable debit card.  The disbursements were in addition to the salary Blackhawk received from the Winnebago Tribe as a tribal council member.   However, the disbursements were not paid through the payroll department of the Winnebago Tribe and were never authorized at a regular or special meeting of the tribal council.  Further, the disbursements were concealed from the Winnebago Gaming Commission which oversaw the operations of the casino and was required to approve financial transactions of the casino.


This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Updated December 8, 2017

Indian Country Law and Justice