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AG completes Indian Village probe

Charges in Osage Nation tribal courts are being considered against former officials of Pawhuska Indian Village in connection with allegations of embezzlement involving funds from lease payments made for the property on which the local casino is located.

Discussion of possible court action follows announcement earlier this month that federal authorities would not seek to prosecute members of a five-man board who had overseen village operations during a nearly four-year period from 2008 to 2012.

A tribal audit released last fall showed that lease-generated funds were used to pay City of Pawhuska utility expenses for some residents of the trust-held village land. (Osage Casino-Pawhuska occupies the southeastern portion of the federally-regulated village property.)

“I am reviewing the (Pawhuska Indian Village) investigation to see what charges are appropriate to be filed in tribal court,” Osage Attorney General Jeff Jones said Tuesday.

Jones said he had recently informed Internal Revenue Service investigators about the embezzlement possibility related to the tribe’s Pawhuska Indian Village accounts.

“I have no idea what they are going to do,” Jones said of the IRS.

The Osage legal official added, however, that he expects guidance from the federal tax-enforcement agency “on how to proceed from my end — whether I need to issue 1099s or W-2s to the people who received money.”

Information revealed through the tribe-ordered audit indicated Pawhuska Indian Village received more than $850,000 from the casino lease between October 2008 and July 2012.

A little more than $50,000 of that amount is alleged to have been spent on the payments for city utilities, the records show.

After being contacted about the audit findings, the U.S. Attorney’s Office investigated but decided not to pursue criminal charges through the Department of Justice, officials said.

The attorney general of the Osages said several determinations must be made before deciding whether or not to proceed with the filing of tribal charges in the case.

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