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Press Release

Lake Andes Man Indicted for Wire Fraud and Theft From an Indian Tribal Organization

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

SIOUX FALLS - United States Attorney Alison J. Ramsdell announced that a federal grand jury has indicted a Lake Andes, South Dakota, man for 18 counts of Wire Fraud and two counts of Theft From an Indian Tribal Organization.

Christopher Saunsoci, age 42, was indicted in November of 2022. He appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Veronica L. Duffy on November 18, 2022, and pleaded not guilty to the Indictment.

The maximum penalty upon conviction is up to 20 years in custody and/or a $250,000 fine, three years of supervised release, and $100 to the Federal Crime Victims Fund for each of the Wire Fraud counts. The maximum penalty upon conviction for each of the two counts of Theft From an Indian Tribal Organization is up to five years in custody and/or a $250,000 fine, three years of supervised release, and $100 to the Federal Crime Victims Fund. Restitution may also be ordered.

The Indictment alleges that between September 8, 2020, and September 17, 2021, Saunsoci devised a scheme to defraud and obtain money by means of false and fraudulent pretenses and representations. The transactions involved the use of electronic wire communications and interstate commerce. The Indictment further alleges that between February 10, 2022, and May 16, 2022, Saunsoci willfully misapplied a 2016 GMC Yukon from the Yankton Sioux Tribe. The Indictment also alleges that between December 31, 2021, and March 16, 2022, Saunsoci willfully misapplied moneys, funds, and credits belonging to the Yankton Sioux Tribe. 

The charges are merely accusations and Saunsoci is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty. 

The investigation is being conducted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the FBI. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jay Miller is prosecuting the case. 

Saunsoci was released on bond pending trial. A trial date has not been set.

This 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: the FBI; 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; IRS Criminal Investigation; U.S. Postal Inspection Service; and the 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.

Updated December 9, 2022

Project Guardian
Indian Country Law and Justice
Financial Fraud