You are here

Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, September 30, 2019

U.S. Attorney’s Guardians Project Results in Multiple Pleas and Sentencings for Theft, Embezzlement, Bribery & Corruption

United States Attorney Ron Parsons announced the resolution of several cases, all of which are separately noted below, that were brought pursuant to the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Guardians Project.  The Guardians Project is 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 federal 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.

“These cases demonstrate the success that the Guardians Project has had since its inception in South Dakota’s U.S. Attorney’s Office,” said U.S. Attorney Ron Parsons.  “The Project has secured dozens of convictions involving millions of dollars that were unlawfully diverted by the few who were in positions of trust and power.  As a result of the hard work of this Office and its federal partners, tax-payer funds are being safeguarded and that money is being returned to the communities that need it the most.”

Two Former Crow Creek Tribal Court Clerks

Sentenced for Embezzlement

Kathleen Goodlow, age 68, of Ft. Thompson, South Dakota, and Christine Reed, age 41, of Pukwana, South Dakota, were sentenced for their respective guilty pleas to Embezzlement and Theft from an Indian Tribal Organization.  U.S. District Judge Roberto A. Lange presided over the sentencing hearings.

Goodlow was sentenced to federal custody for 1 month and to 2 years of supervised release.  She was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $5,255, joint and several with Reed.  Reed was sentenced to 2 years of probation and ordered to pay the same amount of restitution as Goodlow.  Each was ordered to pay a special assessment of $100.

According to court documents, from August 2017 through October 2018, Goodlow and Reed embezzled and converted to their own use more than $5,000 of monies, funds, credits, goods, assets, and other property belonging to the Crow Creek Tribal Court, an Indian Tribal Organization. 

The investigation was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Attorney’s Office.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeremy R. Jehangiri prosecuted the case.

Business Owner Pleads Guilty to Bribery Concerning

Programs Receiving Federal Funds

John Thomas German, Jr., age 35, of Peever, South Dakota, pleaded guilty to one count of bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds.  He entered his guilty plea before U.S. District Judge Charles B. Kornmann on September 23, 2019. 

According to court documents, John Thomas German, Jr., formed a business on December 15, 2016, called Tatanka Contracting.  On October 27, 2017, Dakota Nations Development Corporation contracted with Tatanka Contracting to do the earthwork associated with the elderly village project.  The contract was for a guaranteed price of $1,070,740, although a change order increased the total of the contract to $1,129,679.  On November 6,2017, German corruptly gave, offered, and agreed to give a thing of value to an agent of a tribal organization, Dakota Nations Development Corporation, intending to influence and reward that agent in connection with a transaction and series of transactions of the Dakota Nations Development Corporation involving $5,000 or more. 

The maximum penalty upon conviction is up to 10 years in prison and/or a $250,000 fine, 3 years of supervised release, and $100 to the Federal Crime Victims Fund.  Restitution may also be ordered.  The sentencing hearing will be held at the federal courthouse in Aberdeen on December 16, 2019.

The investigation is being conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Attorney’s Office.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeremy Jehangiri is prosecuting the case.

Business Owner Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement from

Sisseton-Wahpeton Tribal Organizations

Dustin Martin Kirk, age 46, of Sisseton, South Dakota, pleaded guilty to one count of felony embezzlement and theft from an Indian Tribal Organization.  Kirk entered his guilty plea before U.S. District Judge Charles B. Kornmann on September 23, 2019.

According to court documents, in or about August 2016 and December 2018, in the District of South Dakota, Dustin Martin Kirk and his business embezzled, stole, and converted more than $1,000 of monies, funds, credits, goods, assets, and other property belonging to Dakota Nation Development Corporation and the Sisseton-Wahpeton Housing Authority, both of which are entities of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate Sioux Tribe and Indian Tribal Organizations.

The maximum penalty upon conviction on each count is up to 5 years in prison and/or a $250,000 fine, 3 years of supervised release, and $100 to the Federal Crime Victim’s Fund.  Restitution may also be ordered.  The sentencing hearing will be held at the federal courthouse in Aberdeen on May 11, 2020.

The investigation is being conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Attorney’s Office.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeremy Jehangiri is prosecuting the case.

Former Tribal Supervisor Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement

from Sisseton-Wahpeton Tribal Organization

Jerome Renville, age 42, of Peever, South Dakota, pleaded guilty to one count of misdemeanor embezzlement and theft from an Indian Tribal Organization.  Renville entered his guilty plea before U.S. Magistrate Judge William D. Gerdes on September 16, 2019.

Renville embezzled, willfully misapplied, willfully permitted to be misapplied monies, funds, credits, goods, assets, and other property belonging to the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate Sioux Tribe, an Indian Tribal Organization.  Renville was the Supervisor of the Tribe’s Facilities Maintenance for over 5 years.  While serving in that position, Defendant willfully misapplied money and funds belonging to the Tribe; Defendant used and converted those monies and funds for his own personal use.

The maximum penalty upon conviction on each count is up to 5 years in prison and/or a $250,000 fine, 3 years of supervised release, and $100 to the Federal Crime Victim’s Fund.  Restitution may also be ordered.  The sentencing hearing will be held in the federal courthouse in Aberdeen on December 13, 2019.

The investigation is being conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Attorney’s Office.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeremy Jehangiri is prosecuting the case.

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.

Topic(s): 
Indian Country Law and Justice
Component(s): 
Updated September 30, 2019