Eight current or former members of the Omaha Tribal Council and an employee of the tribe have been charged by a federal grand jury that they misused federal funds by funneling money to bonuses and incentives to themselves and other tribal employees.
United States Attorney Deborah Gilg reports the federal grand jury handed down a 20-count indictment against the nine.
Charged are 46-year-old Jessica Webster-Valentino, 64-year-old Barbara Freemont, 55-year-old Amen Sheridan, 62-year-old Rodney Morris, 45-year-old Doran Morris, Jr., 66-year-old Forrest Aldrich, 68-year-old Mitchell Parker, 47-year-old Tillie Aldrich, and 52-year-old Jeff Miller. Each has been charged with conspiracy, conversion and misapplication of funds from a program receiving Federal funds, and conversion and misapplication of funds of a health care benefit program.
Federal prosecutors say the Omaha Tribe of Nebraska filed Contract Disputes Act claims against the Indian Health Service, an agency of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, in 2005 and 2012 for unpaid contract support costs totaling approximately $8.9 million from 1995 to 2011.
The indictment claims the defendants misapplied $388,792.44 to pay the bonuses and incentives in October 2012 even though the claims weren’t resolved until late in 2015. The bonuses were paid with carryover funds that were to pay for health care to members of the Omaha Tribe of Nebraska.
Federal prosecutors allege Jessica Webster-Valentino and Barbara Freemont each received bonuses of $89,692.92, while Amen Sheridan, Rodney Morris, Doran Morris, Jr., Forrest Aldrich, Mitchell Parker, Tillie Aldrich, and Jeff Miller, as tribal council members, each received bonuses of $13,404.44. The indictment alleges the nine were not entitled to the bonuses.