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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Former Tribal Executive Sentenced to Federal Prison for Embezzlement

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 Randolph J. Seiler announced today that a former executive board member of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Sioux Tribe was sentenced in federal court to 20 months of imprisonment.

Thomas Adams, 46, and of the Old Agency District, was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $151,477, and to serve three years of supervised release after serving his prison sentence.

According to court documents, beginning on or about January 20, 2011, and continuing through March 9, 2013, in the District of South Dakota and elsewhere, Thomas Adams formed an agreement with others to embezzle, steal, and knowingly convert to their own use, funds from the Old Agency District of the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate Sioux Tribe ("Tribe"), an Indian tribal organization. Adams joined the agreement knowing its illegal purpose. The Old Agency District ("District") is a subdivision of the Tribe.

Adams, among others, were elected executive board members of the District. During the relevant time period, the District's executive board members were entitled to receive a monthly stipend for their service. From approximately January 2011 through March 2013, Adams and others stole money from the District by writing checks to themselves for payroll, stipends, assistance, travel, and other miscellaneous reasons. As part of his plea agreement, Adams stated that his co-defendants stole a total of $415,499 from the District. The Defendant received $164,477 of the stolen funds and used the funds for his own purposes.

The investigation is being conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the United States Attorney’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorney Ann M. Hoffman is prosecuting 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.

Topic(s): 
Financial Fraud
Indian Country Law and Justice
Component(s): 
Updated July 5, 2017