Former Tribal Officials Make Appearances and Plead Guilty to Embezzlement 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 two former Crow Creek Sioux Tribe councilmembers made appearances in federal court for their respective charges of Embezzlement & Theft from an Indian Tribal Organization, and Aiding and Abetting.
Tina Grey Owl, age 63, was charged for the offense by Information and made her appearance in federal court in Pierre on September 5, 2019. She appeared before U.S. District Judge Roberto A. Lange and pled guilty to the embezzlement offense set forth in the Information.
On September 9, Rozanne Lynette Sazue, age 62, also appeared before Judge Lange and pled guilty to the charge contained in the Superseding Indictment.
According to the Superseding 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 and Grey Owl were elected councilpersons. 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, a $250,000 fine, or both; 3 years, of supervised release; $ 100 to the Federal Crime Victims Fund; and restitution may be ordered.
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.
Roxanne Sauze and Tina Grey Owl were released on bond pending sentencing. A trial date for the other defendants has been set for October 8, 2019. The charges against the others are merely accusations and those defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
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.