Two get probation for stealing from Santee Sioux Tribe

Omaha, Nebraska (AP) October 2010

Two people who were convicted in unrelated federal cases for stealing money from the Santee Sioux Tribe have been given five years of probation and ordered to pay restitution.

A news release from the office of U.S. Attorney Deborah Gilg in Omaha said Karen Red Owl, 52, and Duane Whipple, 41, had embezzled from the tribe’s reservation operations in northeast Nebraska.

When the indictments of Red Owl and Whipple were announced in May, Gilg’s office said a single investigation led to the charges but that the crimes were not related.

According to the release issued last week, Red Owl worked for the tribal court and was supposed to make bank deposits among her other duties. The release said that between March 1, 2006, and Feb. 28, 2007, receipts totaling $14,171 were reviewed, but it was determined that only $9,455 was actually put into the bank.

The release said Red Owl eventually confessed to the tribe’s personnel director.

At Red Owl’s sentencing last week, Judge Joseph Bataillon ordered her to pay $9,174 to the tribe for restitution.

Gilg’s release said Whipple worked in the tribe’s finance office. It said he took several unauthorized payroll advances from October 2005 through February 2007, totaling more than $7,000.

The release said Whipple “either wrote or caused to be issued” more than $9,000 in checks made out to him and more checks made out to third parties to buy a sound system for his car and pay utility bills for his former wife.

According to the release, tribal council members said the check signatures were forged.

At Whipple’s sentencing last week, Judge Laurie Smith Camp ordered him to pay the tribe $21,515.84 in restitution.