Embezzlement and theft charges result in large fine for Norfolk woman
NORFOLK, Neb. -- A Norfolk woman was sentenced to probation and forced to pay a large fine for embezzlement and theft from an Indian tribal organization.
Acting U.S. Attorney Steve Russell said 42-year-old Andrea Rodriguez, of Norfolk, was sentenced in Lincoln on Friday. Rodriguez was charged with two counts of embezzlement and theft from an Indian tribal organization - less than $1,000. She was give four years of probation, a fine of $10,000, $100 for special assessment fees, and made to pay $19,431.57 in restitution. There is no parole in the federal system.
According to court documents, Rodriguez was working for the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska as the Director of the Ponca Tribe’s Domestic Violence Department from July 2019 to the end of October 2020. She was responsible for handling and providing final authorizations for the allocation of monies which the Ponca tribe got as part of the 2018 Victims of Crime Act (“VOCA”) Assistance Grant. These monies were meant to be used to support Ponca tribal members who were dealing with domestic-violence related issues.
Officials said Rodriguez made fake reimbursement requests that seemed like they were going to pay for medical bills, grocery bills, and home furnishing and décor-related expenses for certain tribal domestic violence victims. She then signed the final authorization for the reimbursement of these bills from tribal grant funds.
Authorities said the bills being reimbursed were not actual expenses made by tribal domestic violence victims but were for Rodriguez’s own personal bills. In total, Rodriguez received $19,431.57 in tribal funds as a result of this scheme.
This case was investigated by the U.S. Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General.