OMAHA | The former chairman of the Winnebago Tribe was placed on probation Monday for theft from the tribe's casino.
Chief U.S. District Judge Laurie Smith Camp placed John Blackhawk, 62, on five years probation and ordered him to pay $36,000 in restitution plus a $100 special assessment. Blackhawk has already paid $13,574 toward his restitution.
Blackhawk had pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Omaha in September to one count of theft from a gaming establishment on Indian lands. As part of a plea agreement, charges of conspiracy and wire fraud were dismissed.
He is the fifth of nine former council members initially charged in the case to be sentenced for theft. Charles Aldrich, Louis Houghton, Lawrence Payer and Thomas Snowball all have been placed on probation and ordered to pay restitution ranging from $36,000 to $36,500. Each pleaded guilty to theft from a gaming establishment.
Darwin Snyder has pleaded guilty to theft and awaits sentencing.
Nine former council members were indicted in July 2016 on charges of conspiracy, theft from a gaming establishment on Indian lands and wire fraud.
A judge last month dismissed all charges against Morgan Earth. Travis Mallory has pleaded not guilty to the charges, and a judge has granted a defense request to have Ramona Wolfe undergo a mental health examination to determine whether she is competent to understand the charges filed against her and assist in her defense.
An FBI investigation determined that while on the tribal council, members had given themselves raises and bonuses totaling $327,500 directly from the tribe's WinnaVegas Casino Resort without approving them at council meetings. The distributions were recorded on the casino's books as miscellaneous administrative expenses. The case stemmed from a 2015 tribal investigation that led to the nine either resigning or being ousted from office by newly elected council members.