In 2016, federal authorities charged nine members of the Winnebago tribal council with wire fraud, conspiracy and “theft from a gaming establishment on Indian lands.” Investigators said the group gave itself raises and bonuses totalling more than $327,000, but the payments were disguised as miscellaneous expenses in the casino accounts.
This summer, 56-year-old Thomas Snowball pleaded guilty to one count of theft. A federal judge today has sentenced him to probation and ordered Snowball to pay $36,500 in restitution.
Last week, a judge dismissed charges against one of the nine members of the tribe who were arrested in this case. Three former members of the tribal council have gotten sentences of probation and restitution in the range of $36,000. Two others — including the former Winnebago tribal chairman — await sentencing. A judge ordered a mental health evaluation for a woman charged in the case to determine if she is competent to stand trial. The other person charged in the case has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The Winnebago Tribe has its headquarters in northeast Nebraska. The tribe opened a casino in Sloan, Iowa, in 1992.