The Winnebago Tribe owns and operates the WinnaVegas Casino Resort in Sloan, Iowa. Photo: WinnaVegas Casino
Public Relations

Former leader of Winnebago Tribe receives first sentence in theft of gaming funds

A former leader of the Winnebago Tribe was sentenced to probation for his role in the theft of gaming funds.

Lawrence Payer, 71, was the first person to plead guilty and the first to be sentenced for his role in the crime, in which council members supplemented their salary with funds taken from the WinnaVegas Casino Resort. The money was distributed to the leaders in the form of pre-paid debit cards, according to court documents.

A total of 9 former leaders, including former longtime chairman John Blackhawk, were indicted.

So far Payer, who was sentenced on Monday, Charles Aldrich, 49; Louis Houghton, 70; and Thomas Snowball, 56, have pleaded guilty. Snowball's plea came on Monday as well.

That leaves the cases involving Blackhawk, Darwin Snyder, Travis Mallory, Morgan Earth and Ramona Wolfe unresolved as of Tuesday afternoon. All had been indicted in July 2016, after they were forced out of office in response to allegations of corruption on the reservation.

The cases are being prosecuted in Nebraska, where tribal headquarters are located. WinnaVegas is on trust land in Iowa.

Read More on the Story:
Former Winnebago tribal officer sentenced; another pleads guilty (The Sioux City Journal 8/7)
Ex-Winnebago Tribal Council member sentenced for casino theft (The Lincoln Journal Star 8/8
Winnebago Tribe member gets probation for casino theft (KMTV 8/8)

Related Stories:
Another former leader of Winnebago Tribe pleads in gaming theft case (June 20, 2017)
Another guilty plea in theft of gaming funds from Winnebago Tribe (May 24, 2017)
Former leader of Winnebago Tribe pleads guilty in gaming theft case (May 9, 2017)