June 24, 2024 3 min read


Fact-checked by Velimir Velichkov

Oglala Sioux Former Leader Sentenced to 22 Months for Embezzlement

Snippet: A former president of the Oglala Sioux Tribe was sentenced to prison and restitution in another criminal case under the Guardians Project

The former leader of an Indian Tribal Organization in South Dakota was recently sentenced to nearly two years in prison over embezzlement, among other charges. The person in question abused his leadership position to receive fraudulently money which was subsequently spent on casino gambling and hotel accommodation. The case involves 39-year-old Julian Bear Runner, the former president of the Oglala Sioux Tribe.

The former leader of the Tribe was officially charged back in September 2022. Subsequently, after a three-day jury trial that took place this April, he was found guilty of larceny, embezzlement and wire fraud.

The latest criminal case marks another effort under the federal law enforcement initiative called the Guardians Project. The efforts under the initiative seek to combat fraud, embezzlement and corruption in federal programs and grants. At the same time, the Guardians Project aims to bring to justice anyone who has abused such programs or embezzled from South Dakota Indian country communities.

The criminal case against Bear Runner was investigated by the FBI in collaboration with the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General in South Dakota.

On Thursday, US District Judge Linda R. Reade sentenced the former Oglala Sioux Tribe president to a total of 22 months in federal prison. The 39-year-old man was convicted of one count of larceny, one count of embezzlement and theft from an Indian Tribal Organization, as well as six counts of wire fraud.

Each of the criminal counts will be run concurrently. Besides the prison sentence of nearly two years, Bear Runner was ordered to pay $82,483.71 in restitution to the Oglala Sioux Tribe.

He also must pay a $800 special assessment to the Federal Crime Victims Fund. After his prison term, Bear Runner will be subject to three years of supervised release. Considering the latest sentencing, the former Tribe president was immediately placed into custody by the US Marshals Service.

Fraud Involving Funds Dedicated to Travelling Expenses

The sentence against Bear Runner comes after an investigation uncovered embezzlement and wire fraud involving a sum north of $80,000. According to the Department of Justice, while holding the role of president of the Tribe, between January 2019 and January 2020, the man fraudulently submitted travel vouchers for official business travel and received advanced travel payment.

Bear Runner was not entitled to receive such funds as he wasn’t traveling. Overall, he received more than $80,000 in advance travel payments, money that he cashed out and spent on hotel accommodation and casino gambling across South Dakota.

The fraudulently submitted travel vouchers claimed that the former president needed to travel to locations such as New York, Ohio and North Carolina, among other states. The Department of Justice did not release details on what hotel casinos the former Tribal leader visited.


Jerome is a welcome new addition to the Gambling News team, bringing years of journalistic experience within the iGaming sector. His interest in the industry begun after he graduated from college where he played in regular local poker tournaments which eventually lead to exposure towards the growing popularity of online poker and casino rooms. Jerome now puts all the knowledge he's accrued to fuel his passion for journalism, providing our team with the latest scoops online.

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