The second of nine former members of the Winnebago Tribe Of Nebraska’s tribal council charged with theft from the WinnaVegas Casino Resort has reportedly pled guilty in Nebraska after working out a deal with federal prosecutors.
According to a report from the Sioux City Journal newspaper, Monday saw Louis Houghton admit to one count of theft from a gaming establishment located on tribal lands at the United States District Court For The District Of Nebraska in Omaha with the 70-year-old now due to be sentenced on August 14.
The newspaper reported that as part of Houghton’s plea deal, which has yet to be approved by a judge, federal prosecutors have agreed to dismiss charges of conspiracy and wire fraud and are to recommend that the defendant be sentenced to five years of probation and ordered to repay any money that he may have received illegally.
The Sioux City Journal reported that Houghton has joined 71-year-old Lawrence Payer in agreeing to such a plea arrangement after the pair were indicted on federal charges of conspiracy, theft and wire fraud in July alongside former Tribal Chairman John Blackhawk and members Darwin Snyder, Thomas Snowball, Travis Mallory, Charles Aldrich, Morgan Earth and Ramona Wolfe.
The newspaper reported that the indictments came after the Federal Bureau of Investigation determined the nine had given themselves pay raises and bonuses totaling $327,500 in 2013 and 2014 taken directly from the tribe’s WinnaVegas Casino Resort without first publicly approving them at council meetings. The defendants are alleged to have issued themselves with gift certificates worth $87,000 while uploading $240,500 to pre-paid debit cards that were subsequently listed on the Iowa gambling venue’s books as miscellaneous administrative expenses.
The Sioux City Journal reported that the case stemmed from a 2015 tribal investigation that saw every one of the nine defendants resign from the Winnebago Tribe Of Nebraska’s tribal council or be ousted from office by newly-elected members.