Five former members and employees of the Omaha Tribal Council have been placed on probation for five years and ordered to perform 200 hours of community service after being convicted of misusing federal health care funds for the tribe.
United States Attorney Joe Kelly says former tribal council members 64-year-old Rodney Morris, 68-year-old Forrest Aldrich and 49-year-old Tillie Aldrich and former tribe employees 48-year-old Jessica Webster and 66-year-old Barbara Freemont were sentenced by federal District Judge Robert Rossiter, Jr.
Morris, Forrest Aldrich and Tillie Aldrich were ordered to pay $13,404.44 apiece in restitution. e Freemont and Webster have been ordered to pay $89,000 apiece in restitution.
Four other former tribal council members who have pleaded guilty, Amen Sheridan, Doran Morris, Jr., Mitchell Parker, and Jeff Miller, will be sentenced in October.
The federal indictment against the nine tribal members accuses them of paying nearly $400,000 in bonuses and incentives in a nearly $9 million federal health contract, rather than spending the money on tribal health care.
Federal prosecutors say the Omaha Tribe of Nebraska filed Contract Disputes Act claims against the Indian Health Service, an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Claims filed in 2005 and 2012 asked for reimbursement of unpaid contract support costs from 1995 to 2011. Total claims reached approximately $8.9 million.
The federal indictment claims the defendants paid a total of $388,792.44 in bonuses and incentives to themselves and several other tribal employees in October of 2012, even though claims against the Indian Health Service weren’t resolved until late 2015. The money came from carryover funds from the 2012 Fiscal Year contract with IHS.
Prosecutors says the money was supposed to be used to provide health care to Omaha Tribe members through the Carl T. Curtis Health Education Center.
The indictment alleges that Jessica Webster and Barbara Freemont each received bonuses of $89,692.92, while Amen Sheridan, Rodney Morris, Doran Morris, Jr., Forrest Aldrich, Mitchell Parker, Jeff Miller and Tillie Aldrich, as tribal council members, each received bonuses of $13,404.44. In addition, Jeff Miller received an additional amount of $26,809.32.