PORTLAND, Ore.—A resident of the Fort Hall Reservation in Idaho and former CEO of the Warm Springs Economic Development Corporation (WSEDC) pleaded guilty today for his role in a fraud scheme targeting the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs.
Roderick Ariwite, 66, pleaded guilty to theft of funds from a tribal organization and interstate transportation of a security taken by fraud, resolving two separate criminal cases against him.
According to court documents, WSEDC, also known as Warm Springs Ventures (WSV), is a Tribal organization owned and operated by the Warm Springs Tribes. WSV operates as the management organization for several Tribal business entities, including the Warm Springs Construction Enterprise (WSCE).
Ariwite and an accomplice, Thomas Valentino Adams, 49, a Nevada resident and the former manager of WSCE, created a construction company called Warbonnet Construction Services LLC. While drawing tribal salaries and travel reimbursements, Ariwite and Adams engaged in work projects for Warbonnet. In 2018, Ariwite and Adams used tribal funds to hire a subcontractor for a Warbonnet project and submitted vouchers for expenses they incurred on behalf of themselves and Warbonnet, which were reimbursed with tribal funds. In total, Ariwite and Adams’ scheme cost the Warm Springs Tribes more than $50,000.
On September 24, 2020, a federal grand jury in Portland returned a six-count indictment charging Ariwite and Adams with conspiracy and theft of funds from a Tribal organization. In a separate indictment, Ariwite was charged with one count of interstate transportation of a security taken by fraud.
Ariwite faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison, a $500,000 fine and three years’ supervised release. He will be sentenced on June 6, 2022 before U.S. District Court Judge Michael W. Mosman.
As part of his plea agreement, Ariwite has agreed to pay $39,613 in restitution to the Warm Springs Tribes and $3,000 to an unnamed adult victim.
On August 23, 2021, Adams pleaded guilty to theft of funds from a Tribal organization. He will be sentenced on March 29, 2022 before Judge Mosman.
U.S. Attorney Scott Erik Asphaug of the District of Oregon made the announcement.
This case was investigated by the FBI with assistance from the Warm Springs Police Department. It was prosecuted by Meredith Bateman and Seth Uram, Assistant U.S. Attorneys for the District of Oregon.