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White Earth Band of Minnesota Chippewa

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The former director of the Tribal Employment Rights Office was sentenced to a year in prison Nov. 16 for embezzling from a tribal organization. Roderick Bernard HighElk, 57, of White Earth, pleaded guilty Aug. 13 to one count of embezzling $11,348.80 from a tribal organization. One of the functions of the TERO was to find part-time and temporary employees for programs operated by the tribal council, including the Shooting Star Casino.

During his plea hearing, HighElk admitted that from May 1999 through July 2000 he diverted $70,200 the tribal office had received from the casino as reimbursement for part-time and temporary employees at Shooting Star. HighElk admitted that he deposited the checks into a bank account he opened at the White Earth Reservation Federal Credit Union under the TERO name but for which he had the only access, and used the money for his personal use.

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