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White Earth Band of Minnesota Chippewa

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The former director of the Tribal Employment Rights Office has pleaded guilty to embezzling from a tribal organization. Roderick Bernard HighElk, 57, of White Earth, admitted that between May 1999 and July 2000, he diverted $70,200 the tribal office had received from a casino as reimbursement for part-time and temporary employees. HighElk deposited the checks into a bank account for which he had the only access and used the money for his personal use. HighElk had been charged with 15 felony counts and one misdemeanor count of embezzlement and theft from an Indian Tribal Organization. An FBI investigation led to his arrest in June. HighElk faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine per felony count. A sentencing date is expected in eight to 10 weeks.

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