OMAHA | A former Winnebago Tribal Council member was placed on probation Monday for theft from the tribe's casino.
Chief U.S. District Judge Laurie Smith Camp placed Charles Aldrich on five years probation and ordered him to pay $36,500 in restitution to the tribe. Aldrich also must pay a $100 special assessment.
Aldrich, 50, had pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Omaha in June to theft from a gaming establishment on Indian lands. As part of a plea agreement, charges of conspiracy and wire fraud were dismissed.
Houghton is the third of nine former council members to be sentenced for theft. Lawrence Payer and Louis Houghton each were placed on probation and ordered to pay $36,000 apiece in restitution. Both pleaded guilty to theft from a gaming establishment on Indian lands.
In July 2016, a federal grand jury indicted Aldrich, Houghton, Payer, Thomas Snowball, Darwin Snyder, Travis Mallory, Morgan Earth, Ramona Wolfe and former tribal chairman John Blackhawk. Each was charged with conspiracy, theft from a gaming establishment on Indian lands and wire fraud.
Snowball and Blackhawk have pleaded guilty to theft, and both await sentencing.
An FBI investigation determined that while on the tribal council, the nine 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.