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Press Release

Shawnee Man to Serve Five Years Probation and Pay Over $181,000 in Restitution for Receiving Kickbacks in Scheme to Embezzle from Citizen Potawatomi Nation

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Oklahoma

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma – Yesterday, THOMAS BIERD, 35 from Shawnee, Oklahoma, was sentenced by United States District Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange to serve probation for five years and pay $181,763 in restitution to the Citizen Potawatomi Nation for embezzlement from the tribe, announced Mark A. Yancey, Acting United States Attorney for the Western District of Oklahoma. 

Bierd was indicted on April 21, 2015, for his role in the embezzlement scheme that involved a related case against KRISTI BIAS, 42, also of Shawnee.  According to court records and information at court hearings, Bias was employed as the Executive Director of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation’s Community Development Corporation (CDC), which promoted economic development in the Native American community by providing loans and grants to companies owned by or which primarily employed members of federally-recognized Indian tribes.  From December of 2010 and September of 2011, Bias was alleged to have caused grants to be issued to false or ineligible entities, falsified supporting documents, and received kickbacks for doing so. Bierd controlled an entity that received checks issued from CDC by Bias who, in turn, kicked back a portion of the proceeds to Bias. 

On October 8, 2015, Bias was sentenced to serve 24 months in federal prison for embezzlement from the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, and pay $251,018.35 in restitution to the tribe. Following her 24-month prison term, Bias is ordered to served 3 years of supervised release and pay $251,018.35 in restitution to the tribe. 

On September 3, 2015, Bierd pled guilty to embezzlement from the tribe.   Yesterday, he was ordered to serve probation for five years and pay $181,763 in restitution to the tribe for his role in the embezzlement.  

This case is the result of an investigation conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Tim Ogilvie.

Reference is made to court filings for further information.

Updated April 14, 2016

Indian Country Law and Justice