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Press Release

Sioux Falls Man and Woman Sentenced for Embezzlement and Theft from Indian Tribal Organization

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

PIERRE - United States Attorney Alison J. Ramsdell announced today that Chief Judge Robert A. Lange, U.S. District Court, has sentenced two persons from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, who were convicted of Embezzlement and Theft from an Indian Tribal Organization. The sentencings took place on July 1, 2024.

April Ferguson, age 46, was sentenced to five months in federal prison and an additional five months of home confinement, followed by two years of supervised release, restitution of $36,077 for the Ideal Lakota Community, and ordered to pay a $100 special assessment to the Federal Crime Victims Fund.  Steven Casto, age 41, was sentenced to two years of probation, restitution of $5,922 for the Ideal Lakota Community, and ordered to pay a $100 special assessment to the Federal Crime Victims Fund.

Ferguson and Casto were indicted by a federal grand jury in March of 2023. Ferguson and Casto pleaded guilty on March 18, 2024. 

Ferguson and Casto both previously lived within the Ideal Lakota Community, an organized political subdivision of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, established and governed by its Constitution and bylaws.  Article V of the Rosebud Constitution explains the duties and responsibilities of the community chairperson and other officers, including how monies are to be expended for the benefit of community members.  Between March 1, 2020 and June 1, 2021, Ferguson, acting in her capacity as the elected chairperson of the Ideal Lakota Community, fraudulently embezzled and stole money and assets from the community.  Ferguson was dating Casto during part of this time.  As chairperson, Ferguson had access to community treasury accounts. In December 2020, the Rosebud Sioux Tribe issued a large check to the Ideal Lakota Community.  Ferguson and Casto linked a CashApp account to the Ideal Lakota Community’s bank account and conducted numerous transactions that were not for the benefit of the community members.  Transactions included purchases from Amazon, Apple, Playstation Network, gas stations, restaurants, department stores, and grocery stores.  Ferguson and Casto either directly benefited from the expenditures or allowed others to benefit from the funds rightfully belonging to the Ideal Lakota Community. 

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.

This case was investigated by the FBI.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Tim Maher prosecuted the case.

Ferguson was ordered to self surrender to the U.S. Marshals Service on July 15, 2024 to serve her custody sentence.

Updated July 2, 2024