Two-year embezzlement scheme uncovered by AP audit

A tribal organization in South Dakota is dealing with the news that four of its high officials have been found guilty of embezzling more than $300,000 total from its accounts over a two-year period. The illegal activity was uncovered by an accounts payable audit, and all four individuals involved are currently awaiting sentencing following their trials.

According to The Associated Press, the four tribal officials were part of the Heipa/Veblen District of the Sisseton Wahpeton Sioux in South Dakota and included district chairman Lloyd LaBelle, district secretary Charlene Wanna, vice chairwoman Jacqueline Wanna and treasurer Tammie Strutz. An accounts payable audit revealed that all four individuals worked together in an embezzlement scheme and stole approximately $350,000. At their sentencing hearings in April, each person faces up to five years in prison and up to a $250,000 fine, the news source states.

The investigation discovered that funds were stolen from the tribal organization’s accounts through the creation of unauthorized checks, reports the Aberdeen News. All four officials had check writing authority, and they signed checks to themselves and to others throughout their scheme. 

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