The third 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 agreeing to a plea deal with federal prosecutors.
According to a report from the Sioux City Journal newspaper, Monday saw Charles Aldrich 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 48-year-old now awaiting sentencing.
The newspaper reported that as part of Aldrich’s deal, federal prosecutors agreed to dismiss charges of conspiracy, misapplication of funds and wire fraud while he has now joined fellow tribal leaders Lawrence Payer and Louis Houghton in agreeing to an official plea arrangement.
The Sioux City Journal reported that Aldrich, Payer, and Houghton 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, Morgan Earth and Ramona Wolfe.
The newspaper reported that these 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.