Charles Cummings. Photo: Wild Horse Butte Community Development Corporation
Law

Oglala Sioux Tribe secures restitution for funds stolen by former district official





CORRECTION: An incorrect photo and link was provided of Charles Cummings in a prior version of this post. The photo and link have been updated.

A former district official who stole funds from the Oglala Sioux Tribe has agreed to pay $2,500 in restitution.

Charles Cummings was the former vice chairman of the LaCreek District on the Pine Ridge Reservation. He was issued $2,500 to hold a New Year's party for his community but used the funds for personal reasons instead, according to a factual basis statement.

The tribe then asked Cummings to repay the funds but he refused. That led to federal court indictment and a guilty plea, the U.S. Attorney's Office in South Dakota announced on Thursday.

"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," the office said in a press release. "Cummings pleaded guilty to a federal misdemeanor and has agreed to pay restitution in the amount of $2,500."

Cummings, whose guilty plea was accepted on August 4, faces up to 1 year in prison, in addition to paying restitution. A sentencing date has not been entered in the federal court's online system as of Friday morning.

According to the Wild Horse Butte Community Development Corporation, Cummings is a former tribal police officer. At one point he served as the elected sheriff in Bennett County until he resigned after less than a year, Indian Country Media Network reported.

LaCreek is one of 9 districts on the reservation. It is the smallest in terms of population.