Sentences have been handed down against three other former Omaha Tribal Council members who pocketed federal funds rather than using them to provide health care for the Omaha Tribe of Nebraska.
United States Attorney Joe Kelly has announced that former tribal chair, 57-year-old Amen Sheridan, and former councilmembers 70-year-old Mitchell Parker and 54-year-old Jeff Miller have been placed on five years’ probation and ordered to perform 200 hours of community service.
The sentences handed down by federal District Judge Robert Rossiter, Jr. are the same as those handed down to five other former members and employees of the Omaha Tribal Council last month.
In addition, the three must pay back the money they took from the federal funds. Sheridan and Parker were ordered to pay $13,404.44 apiece. Jeff Miller was ordered to pay $40,213.32.
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.
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 earlier by Judge Rossiter.
One defendant remains, according to federal prosecutors. Doran Morris, Jr. has pleaded guilty and will be sentenced later.