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Press Release

Tribal District Vice-Chair Appears in Federal Court for Embezzlement Charge

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of South Dakota
Defendant 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 Lacreek District Vice-Chair has been indicted by a federal grand jury for Embezzlement and Theft from an Indian Tribal Organization.

Charles Leo Cummings, 57, of Martin, South Dakota, was indicted on June 20, 2017. He made his initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Daneta Wollman on July 7, 2017, and pled not guilty to the indictment.

The maximum term of imprisonment upon conviction is up to 5 years, and/or a $250,000 fine, a period of 3 years of supervised release, and a special assessment of $100 to the Federal Crime Victims Fund. Restitution may also be ordered.

The Indictment charges that between December 28, 2015, and January 18, 2016, Cummings did willfully and knowingly embezzle, steal, misapply, and convert to his own use more than $1,000 of monies, funds, credits, goods, assets, and other property belonging to the Oglala Sioux Tribe.

The investigation is being conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Interior, Office of Inspector General. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeremy R. Jehangiri 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.

Updated July 10, 2017

Financial Fraud
Indian Country Law and Justice