PIERRE, S.D. (DRG News) – Two former Crow Creek Sioux Tribe council members have been sentenced in federal court for their roles in an embezzlement scheme involving tribal funds.
Former council member 64-year-old Tina Grey Owl was sentenced to a split sentence of ten months of custody, with five months to be served at a facility designated by the Bureau of Prisons and five months to be served on home confinement. This will be followed by two years of supervised release. She was also ordered to pay a yet to be determined amount of restitution. The total loss associated with Grey Owl’s embezzlement was approximately $192,300.
Former Crow Creek Sioux Tribe council chair 63-year-old Roxanne Lynette Sazue was sentenced to a split sentence of five months custody, with one month to be served at a facility designated by the Bureau of Prisons and four months to be served on home confinement. This will be followed by two years of supervised release. Sauze was also ordered to pay $43,300 in restitution.
Chief US District Judge Roberto Lange presided over the sentencing hearings.
Three other defendants were previously sentenced for their respective roles in the embezzlement scheme.
Roland Robert Hawk, Sr., 51, the former elected treasurer of the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe, was sentenced to 42 months of imprisonment and ordered to pay $325,762.50 in restitution. Francine Maria Middletent, 55, a former elected council member of the Tribe, was sentenced to 30 months of imprisonment, and ordered to pay $273,817.55 in restitution. Jacqueline Ernestine Pease, 34, was sentenced to three years of probation, and ordered to pay $74,100 in restitution. Pease was not an elected official, yet she worked in the Tribe’s Finance Office, where Hawk was the overall supervisor and where Middletent worked as Chief Financial Officer.
According to court documents, from about March 2014 through February 2019, Roland Robert Hawk, Sr., Francine Maria Middletent, Roxanne Lynette Sazue, Jacquelyn Ernestine Pease, Tina Grey Owl and Brandon Sazue embezzled approximately $1,000,000 belonging to the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe.
During times relevant to each defendant’s case, Brandon Sazue served as Chair of the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe, Hawk served as the elected Treasurer of the tribe, Roxanne Sazue was also chair, and Middletent and Grey Owl were elected councilpersons. When not serving in their respective leadership positions, all defendants, except for Brandon Sazue, worked for Hawk in the Tribe’s Finance Office. In their respective leadership roles and employment positions, the defendants had the access and opportunity to the funds that were embezzled from the tribe.
Brandon Sazue, the sixth and final defendant, will be sentenced June 16.
The case was brought pursuant to The Guardians Project, a federal law enforcement initiative to coordinate efforts between participating agencies, to promote citizen disclosure of public corruption, fraud and embezzlement involving federal program funds, contracts, and grants and to hold accountable those who are responsible for adversely affecting people living in South Dakota’s Indian country communities.