Former Tribal Chair 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 a former Crow Creek Sioux Tribe councilmember and chair was indicted by a federal grand jury for embezzlement & theft from an Indian tribal organization, and aiding and abetting.
Brandon Sazue, age 45, of Chamberlain, South Dakota, was indicted on August 6, 2019. He appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark Moreno on August 9, 2019, and pled not guilty to the Indictment.
According to the Indictment, in about March 2014 through February 2019, Roland Robert Hawk Sr., Francine Maria Middletent, Roxanne Lynette Sazue, Jacquelyn Ernestine Pease, and Brandon Sazue embezzled, stole, willfully misapplied, willfully permitted to misapplied, 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 times relevant to each defendant’s case, Brandon Sazue served as Chair of the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe, Hawk served as the elected Treasurer of the tribe, Roxanne Sazue was also Chair, and Middletent was an elected councilperson. When not serving in their respective leadership positions, all defendants, except for Brandon Sazue, worked for Hawk in the tribe’s finance office. In their respective leadership roles and employment positions, the defendants had the access and opportunity to 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, Roxanne Sauze, and Brandon Sazue were released on bond. A trial date has been set for September 10, 2019.
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.