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Justice News

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

Friday, August 18, 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 that a former executive board member of the Big Coulee District of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate Tribe was sentenced in federal court on August 17, 2017, to 10 months of imprisonment. Carrie Godfrey, 52, of Sisseton, was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $31,640, to pay a fine in the amount of $3,000, and to serve three years of supervised release after serving her prison sentence.

According to court documents, from approximately June 2010 through March 2013, Godfrey and her co-defendants conspired to embezzle, steal, and knowingly convert to their own use funds from the Big Coulee District of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate Tribe, an Indian tribal organization. The Big Coulee District is a political subdivision of the Tribe. Godfrey and her co-defendants were all elected executive board members or employees of the District at the time.

During the conspiracy, they stole a total of $81,542.50 from the District. Godfrey received $31,640 of the stolen funds and used the funds for her own purposes.

The investigation was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorney Ann M. Hoffman 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.

Financial Fraud
Updated August 18, 2017