Legal

Pawhuska Village committee files ethics complaint for nonpayment of restitution

Photo caption: The ON Attorney General's office is located on the second floor of the Osage Nation Law Building in Pawhuska. Osage News

The Pawhuska Indian Village 5 Person Committee filed an ethics complaint in September against officials and employees of the Judicial Branch and the Treasury department.

The issue at hand is nonpayment of restitution owed to the committee stemming from four cases of misuse of public funds by four former PIV board members in 2014. The four men were sentenced in 2016 after plea deals were made with the ON Attorney General’s office to pay restitution and court costs.

“Four previous board members were charged and are on a payment plan for restitution. The PIV has never been paid any of the restitution monies collected and there are currently three cases still supposed to be making payments. The outstanding cases are CM-2014-11 Joe Don Mashunkashey; CM-2014-12 Kenneth Bills; and CM-2014-13 Ted Brunt,” according to the Sept. 17, 2020, complaint. “Frank Redcorn was the only previous board member to pay his balance in full. The board would like to know when those restitution funds will be disbursed to the PIV and also what is the procedure for [those] defendants ... that have not made payments consecutively.”

Brunt was ordered to pay $36,000 in restitution and court costs, in exchange for a five-year deferred jail sentence. Bills was ordered to pay $24,000 in restitution and court costs, in exchange for two consecutive five-year deferred jail sentences. Mashunkashey was ordered to pay $50,000 in restitution and court costs, in exchange for two consecutive five-year deferred jail sentences. Redcorn was ordered to pay $2,090 in restitution, court costs and has paid his in full.

According to PIV 5 Person Committee Chairwoman Marjorie Williams, the PIV has not seen a dime of the restitution owed them.

In the four cases, the AG’s office filed numerous counts of misuse of public funds in regard to a 2012 ON Office of Fiscal Performance and Review audit report that stated over $806,000 in village revenue was unaccounted for and called for government officials to take action in wake of the findings.

The AG’s office launched an investigation to determine whether tribal charges were warranted. The U.S. Attorney’s Office and FBI also investigated the issue in 2013 but declined to file federal charges of embezzlement in the cases.

The PIV committee is currently made up of Williams, Vice Chairwoman Christina Cheshewalla, Cherokee Cheshewalla, Myron Red Eagle and Pete Bighorse.

AG Clint Patterson confirmed his office was in receipt of the complaint and declined comment due to the ongoing investigation.