Public Corruption: Spirit Lake Tribal Officer Found Guilty of Theft from an Indian Tribal Organization

U.S. Attorney Timothy Q. Purdon announced that on Jan. 25, 2012, Justin Yankton, 38, of Fort Totten, N.D., was found guilty by a 12-person jury of theft and embezzlement from an Indian Tribal organization. U.S. District Judge Ralph R. Erickson presided over the two-day trial. Yankton and Brooke Black shared a residence in Fort Totten. Brooke Black applied to receive benefits meant for the low income and poverty level homes of the reservation. In that application, Black omitted the name and income of Yankton. Because of this omission, the home qualified to receive home heating financial assistance. Justin Yankton, as the secretary/treasurer of the Spirit Lake Tribal Council, knew the household was improperly receiving fuel assistance and at times actually ordered fuel to be delivered under Black's account. The incidents occurred from October 2008 through March 2011 on the Spirit Lake Indian Reservation. The charge carries a statutory maximum penalty of five years in prison.

Black, 29, an employee with the Food Distribution Program, pleaded guilty on Jan. 26, 2012, to a charge of theft and embezzlement from an Indian Tribal organization.

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