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Press Release

Former Secretary of Tribal Office Sentenced for Embezzlement

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

United States Attorney Ron Parsons announced that a former Secretary of the Oglala Sioux Tribe’s Credit and Finance Office was sentenced to 5 years of federal probation for Embezzlement and Theft from an Indian Tribal Organization.  Helen Hernandez, age 41, was also ordered to pay $42,100 in restitution.  She pleaded guilty to felony embezzlement on April 5, 2019, at the federal courthouse in Rapid City, South Dakota.

According to court documents, from February 2014 through June 2015, Hernandez embezzled and converted to her own use more than $1,000 of monies, funds, credits, goods, assets, and other property belonging to the Credit and Finances Office of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, an Indian Tribal Organization.  During the time of the embezzlement, Hernandez was serving as the Secretary of that office. 

The investigation was conducted by the Department of Interior, Office of Inspector General.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeremy R. Jehangiri prosecuted the case.

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 United States 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 United States 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.

Updated July 31, 2019