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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Former Director of Tribal Development Entity Pleads Guilty to Bribery

The Guardians Project

United States Attorney Ron Parsons has announced the following plea, identified below, brought by the Guardians Project, a collaborative federal law enforcement initiative in the District of South Dakota designed to promote citizen disclosure of public corruption, fraud, and embezzlement involving federal program funds, contracts, and grants, and to hold accountable those responsible for adversely affecting those living in South Dakota’s tribal communities.

Guilty Plea for Bribery Related to Programs Receiving Federal Funds

Daniel Thomas White, age 44 of Peever, South Dakota, appeared before U.S. District Judge Charles B. Kornmann on August 24, 2020, and pleaded guilty to bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds.    

At the time of the bribery scheme, White served as the Director of the Dakota Nations Development Corporation (DNDC), an entity of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate Sioux Tribe.  White’s duties included, among other things, overseeing housing and construction projects of the DNDC.

DNDC, by and through the tribe, received federal assistance in excess of $10,000 during the one-year period between October 1, 2017, and September 30, 2018.  DNDC established an entity called the SWO Elderly Village Limited Partnership.  The purpose of the entity was to obtain tax credit financing to build an elderly village complex on tribal land.  On April 22, 2016, SWO’s tribal council passed a resolution authorizing DNDC to pursue low-income housing tax credits for the elderly village complex.  The tribe also committed nearly $3,000,000 to the project.

On October 27, 2017, DNDC contracted with Tatanka Contracting to do the earthwork associated with the elderly village project.  The contract was for a guaranteed price of $1,070,740, although a change order increased the total of the contract to $1,129,679.  According to documents filed with the Court, on or about November 6, 2017, White corruptly solicited, demanded, and agreed to accept a thing of value from a person or persons working for and on behalf of Tatanka Contracting, intending to be influenced and rewarded in connection with a transaction and series of transactions of the Dakota Nations Development Corporation involving $5,000 or more.

The maximum penalty upon conviction is up to 10 years in prison and/or a $250,000 fine, 3 years of supervised release, and $100 to the Federal Crime Victims Fund.  Restitution may also be ordered.

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

A sentencing date of May 24, 2021, has been set. 

Topic(s): 
Indian Country Law and Justice
Component(s): 
Updated August 26, 2020