Court upholds tribal theft sentence

Sioux Falls, South Dakota (AP) June, 2011

A federal appeals court upheld the 10-year prison sentence given to an official for embezzling from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s Housing Authority.

Fifty-six-year-old Ladarana Mees of Bismarck, N.D., pleaded guilty in July 2010 to a single count of theft from programs receiving federal funds. Eight other counts were dismissed and Mees was ordered to make restitution of nearly $20,000.

He appealed the 10-year sentence as unreasonable and said the judge improperly departed from sentencing guidelines that suggested a prison term of 70 to 87 months.

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied his challenge.

The Standing Rock Reservation straddles the North Dakota-South Dakota border.