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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, August 10, 2017

Tribal District Vice-Chair Pleads Guilty in Federal Court to Embezzlement Charge

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 pleaded guilty in federal court to Embezzlement and Theft from an Indian Tribal Organization.

Charles Leo Cummings, 57, of Martin, South Dakota, entered his guilty plea on August 4, 2017, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Daneta Wollmann.

The maximum term of imprisonment upon conviction is up to 1 year and/or a $100,000 fine, a period of 1 year of supervised release, and a special assessment of $25 to the Federal Crime Victims Fund. Restitution will also be ordered.

According to his plea agreement, between December 28, 2015, and January 18, 2016, Cummings did willfully and knowingly embezzle, steal, misapply, and convert to his own use monies, funds, credits, goods, assets, and other property belonging to the Oglala Sioux Tribe. Cummings pleaded guilty to a federal misdemeanor and has agreed to pay restitution in the amount of $2,500.

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.

Topic(s): 
Financial Fraud
Indian Country Law and Justice
Component(s): 
Updated August 10, 2017