Native Sun News: Nine former leaders of Winnebago Tribe indicted

John Blackhawk resigned as chairman of the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska in April 2015 and is among nine former tribal leaders facing federal theft and other charges. Photo from Ho-Chunk Inc / Facebook

Nine Winnebago leaders indicted
Indictment includes wire fraud, theft, conspiracy and misapplication of tribal funds
By Richie Richards
Native Sun News Staff Writer

WINNEBAGO –– A federal grand jury has indicted nine former Winnebago Tribal Council Members, including former Chairman John Blackhawk, on 11 counts including wire fraud, theft, conspiracy and misapplication of funds during 2013 and 2014.

In a press release dated July 20, 2016, United States Attorney Deborah R. Gilg, announced the charges against John Blackhawk, 61, Darwin Snyder, 49, Thomas Snowball Jr., 55, Louis Houghton, 69, Lawrence Payer, 70, Travis Mallory, 38, Charles Aldrich, 48, Morgan Earth, 70, and Ramona Wolfe, 76.

According to the press release, "each defendant received a salary in excess of $80,000 in 2013, and a salary in excess of $87,000 in 2014. Those tribal council salaries had been increased by approximately 35% in February 2013 retroactive to October 1, 2012.”

“Because of the retroactive nature of the salary increase, on February 22, 2013, lump sum distributions were given to the defendants in the following amounts: (a) general members of the tribal council $8,288.56; (b) vice-chairman, secretary, and treasurer $9,945.74; and (c) chairman $11,602.92. Additionally, each of the defendants received five separate bonuses totaling $5,955.62 in 2013, and six separate bonuses totaling $11,019.23 in 2014,” U.S. Attorney Gilg said in the press release.

Not only were the tribal leaders retroactively collecting on their pay increases, but they were also giving themselves bonuses. In 2013, received five bonuses which totaled $5,955.62 and in 2014, they received six bonuses totaling $11,019.23.

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