OMAHA | The third of nine former Winnebago Tribal Council members charged with theft from the tribe's casino has pleaded guilty.

Charles Aldrich entered his guilty plea Monday in U.S. District Court in Omaha to theft from a gaming establishment on Indian lands.

Louis Houghton and Lawrence Payer previously pleaded guilty to theft from a gaming establishment on Indian lands. Both await sentencing.

In July, a federal grand jury indicted Aldrich, Payer, Houghton, former tribal chairman John Blackhawk, Darwin Snyder, Thomas Snowball Jr., Travis Mallory, Morgan Earth and Ramona Wolfe. Each was charged with conspiracy, theft from a gaming establishment on Indian lands and wire fraud.

The indictments came after an FBI investigation determined that while on the tribal council, the defendants had given themselves raises and bonuses totaling $327,500 directly from the tribe's WinnaVegas Casino Resort without approving them at council meetings. It showed that in 2013 and 2014, the nine were issued $87,000 in gift certificates by the casino and uploads to prepaid debit cards paid for by the casino totaling $240,500. These distributions were recorded on the casino's books as miscellaneous administrative expenses, according to the indictment.

The case stemmed from a 2015 tribal investigative report. In the wake of that report, the nine resigned or were ousted from office by newly elected council members.


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