Criminal Justice News

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Former President of Tonkawa Tribe Pleads Guilty to Tribal Embezzlement Conspiracy

OKLAHOMA CITY—Today, Anthony E. Street, 48, of Ponca City, Oklahoma, pled guilty to conspiracy to embezzle funds from the Tonkawa Tribe of Oklahoma, announced Sanford C. Coats, United States Attorney for the Western District of Oklahoma.

Street was the elected president of the Tonkawa Tribe of Oklahoma from April 2005 until April 2008. During that same time, Gordon L. Warrior served as the tribe’s elected vice president, and Dawena Pappan was elected as the tribe’s secretary-treasurer. Together, the three made up the tribe’s Business Committee and handled the tribe’s day-to-day affairs.

On October 18, 2011, a federal grand jury indicted Street for conspiring with Warrior and Pappan to embezzle money from the tribe from 2005 through 2008. The indictment alleged that Street, Warrior, and Pappan together embezzled more than $500,000 from the tribe’s general fund by issuing themselves more than 300 checks while in office. The indictment alleged that soon after taking office in 2005, Street, Warrior, and Pappan began writing checks to themselves from the tribe’s general fund for their personal use. The general fund account included proceeds from the tribe’s casinos. These checks from the general fund were in addition to the salaries paid by the tribe to the Business Committee members. The indictment also charged Street with 16 counts of tribal embezzlement for checks issued to him from the General Fund.

At today’s plea hearing, Street pled guilty to one count of conspiring to embezzle tribal funds. Street admitted that around May of 2005, he began diverting money from the tribe with Warrior and Pappan. Street further admitted that over the next three years in office, the Business Committee wrote themselves dozens of checks from the tribe’s general fund account, and the checks were mostly for their personal benefit.

At sentencing, Street faces up to five years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine for the conspiracy count. As part of a plea agreement, Street agreed to pay restitution to the tribe for the embezzled funds by the Business Committee. Also, as part of the plea agreement, the government agreed to dismiss the remaining counts of tribal embezzlement. Sentencing for Street is set for September 5, 2012.

Warrior and Pappan have previously pled guilty in federal court in separate cases to embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars in casino proceeds from the tribe for their personal use. Warrior and Pappan are awaiting sentencing on June 20, 2012.

These cases are the result of an investigation conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Chris M. Stephens and Jim Robinson.

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