OMAHA -- The first two of nine current and former Omaha Tribal officials who admitted to using federal funds to give themselves bonuses were sentenced Friday to probation and ordered to repay the money they misused.
U.S. District Judge Robert Rossiter Jr. sentenced former tribal councilman Rodney Morris, 64, to five years of probation and ordered him pay $13,404 in restitution. According to court records, Morris has already paid the restitution.
Rossiter also placed former tribal employee Barbara Freemont, 65, on five years probation and ordered to her to pay $89,000 in restitution.
Both had previously pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Omaha to one count of misapplication of health care benefit program funds. Their sentences had been spelled out in plea agreements with federal prosecutors. Other charges against them were dismissed as part of their plea agreements.
Morris and Freemont were among the tribal officials accused of using federal funds to award bonuses ranging from $13,404 to $89,693 to themselves. Former council members Forrest Aldrich, Tillie Aldrich, Doran Morris Jr., Jessica Webster, Mitchell Parker and Amen Sheridan and current council member Jeff Miller all have pleaded guilty to misapplication of health care benefit program funds. Plea agreements in their cases call for sentences of probation and repayment of the funds they took. All seven are scheduled to be sentenced in coming weeks.
A federal indictment filed in September 2016 charged the nine with conspiracy, conversion and misapplication of funds from a program receiving federal funds. The indictment, the result of a state and federal investigation, accused them of granting themselves $388,972 in incentive payments from Indian Health Service funds meant to provide health care to tribal members through the Carl T. Curtis Health Education Center.
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