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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of South Dakota

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, July 12, 2019

Current and Former Tribal Officials Indicted for Embezzlement & Theft from an Indian Tribal Organization and Aiding and Abetting

Defendants Prosecuted as Part of The Guardians Project, a Federal Law Enforcement Initiative to Combat Corruption, Fraud, and Abuse in South Dakota

United States Attorney Ron Parsons announced today that past and present Crow Creek Sioux Tribe councilmembers were indicted by a federal grand jury for embezzlement & theft from an Indian tribal organization, and aiding and abetting.

Roland Robert Hawk, Sr., age 50, Francine Maria Middletent, age 55, Roxanne Lynette Sazue, age 62, and Jacquelyn Ernestine Pease, age 34, all from Ft. Thompson, South Dakota, were indicted on July 9, 2019.  All four defendants appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Veronica Duffy on July 12, 2019, and pled not guilty to the Indictment.

According to the Indictment, in about March 2014 through February 2019, Hawk, Middletent, Sazue, and Pease embezzled, stole, willfully misapplied, willfully permitted to misapply, and converted to their own use over $1,000 of monies, funds, credit, goods, assets, and other property belonging to the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe.  During the timeframe, Hawk served as the elected Treasurer of the tribe, and all of the other defendants worked for Hawk in the tribe’s finance office.  In their respective leadership roles and employment positions, the defendants had the opportunity to access the funds that were embezzled from the tribe.  

The maximum penalties for each defendant upon conviction are as follows: 5 years imprisonment and/or a $250,000 fine; 3 years of supervised release; $100 to the Federal Crime Victims Fund; and restitution may be ordered. 

The charges are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty. 

The investigation is being conducted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeremy R. Jehangiri is prosecuting the case.   

Hawk, Sr. was remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service.  Defendants Pease, Middletent, and Sazue were released on bond.  A trial date has not been set.

The case was brought pursuant to The Guardians Project, a federal law enforcement initiative to coordinate efforts between participating agencies, to promote citizen disclosure of public corruption, fraud, and embezzlement involving federal program funds, contracts, and grants, and to hold accountable those who are responsible for adversely affecting those living in South Dakota’s Indian country communities.  The Guardians Project is another step of federal law enforcement’s on-going efforts to increase engagement, coordination, and positive action on behalf of tribal communities.  Led by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the participating agencies include: Federal Bureau of Investigation; the Offices of Inspector General for the Departments of Interior, Health and Human Services, Social Security Administration, Agriculture, Transportation, Education, Justice, and Housing and Urban Development; Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division; U.S. Postal Inspector Service; U.S. Postal Service, Office of Inspector General.

For additional information about The Guardians Project, please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Office at (605) 330-4400.  To report a suspected crime, please contact law enforcement at the federal agency’s locally listed telephone number.

Topic(s): 
Financial Fraud
Indian Country Law and Justice
Component(s): 
Updated July 12, 2019