Three tribal officials charged in bribery scheme
United States Department of Justice
Two current tribal government officials and one former tribal government official of the Three Affiliated Tribes of the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation (MHA Nation) were charged by criminal complaint unsealed yesterday for their alleged acceptance of bribes and kickbacks from a contractor providing construction services on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation (FBIR), which is the home of the Three Affiliated Tribes of the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian C. Rabbitt of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Drew H. Wrigley for the District of North Dakota, and Acting Special Agent in Charge Aubree M. Schwartz of the FBI’s Minneapolis Field Office made the announcement.
Randall Jude Phelan, 55, of Mandaree, North Dakota, and Delvin Reeves, 52, of Watford City, North Dakota, were charged in complaints supported by one affidavit, while Frank Charles Grady, 52, of Hardin, Montana, was charged in a complaint supported by a second affidavit. All three defendants were charged in the District of North Dakota with one count of conspiracy and one count of federal programs bribery. Phelan and Reeves made their initial appearances in the District of North Dakota before U.S. Magistrate Judge Alice R. Senechal yesterday. Grady made his initial appearance in the District of Montana before U.S. Magistrate Judge Timothy J. Cavan yesterday.
According to the affidavits in support of the complaints against them, Phelan has been a representative on the Tribal Business Council, the elected governing body of the Three Affiliated Tribes of the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation, since approximately November 2012, and Reeves is a paid employee of the tribal government. Grady was a Tribal Business Council representative from approximately November 2014 until November 2018.
According to the affidavit in support of the complaints against them, Phelan and Reeves solicited and accepted bribes and kickbacks from the contractor in connection with his business’s operation on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation beginning in approximately 2013 and continuing through 2020. The complaint alleges that, in exchange for the payments, Phelan and Reeves used their official positions to help the contractor’s business, including by awarding contracts, fabricating bids during purportedly competitive bidding processes, advocating for the contractor with other tribal officials, and facilitating the submission and payment of fraudulent invoices.
The complaint against Grady alleges that he solicited and accepted bribes and kickbacks beginning in approximately January 2016 and continuing through September 2017. The affidavit in support of the complaint alleges that Grady used his official position to help the contractor’s business, including by awarding contracts, pressuring other construction companies to award subcontracting work, advocating for the contractor with other tribal officials, and facilitating the submission and payment of fraudulent invoices. The complaints allege that the defendants each accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes and kickbacks.
A criminal complaint is merely an accusation, and all defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
The FBI investigated the case. Trial Attorney Jessee Alexander-Hoeppner of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section is prosecuting the case with the assistance of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of North Dakota.
The year 2020 marks the 150th anniversary of the Department of Justice. Learn more about the history of our agency at www.Justice.gov/Celebrating150Years.