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Two South Dakotans sentenced to prison for embezzling $40K from Standing Rock Sioux Tribe organizations

Despite the similarities in the case, the U.S. Attorney’s Office gave no indication that either case was connected to one another.

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ABERDEEN, S.D. — Two South Dakotans will serve time in federal prison after embezzling a total of nearly $40,000 from Standing Rock Sioux Tribe organizations in schemes that ran from 2017 to 2020.

Joshua Iron Cloud Sr., 39, of Wakpala, South Dakota, was sentenced July 18 to six months in federal prison, followed by three years of supervised release. He was also ordered to pay $23,980 in restitution to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and make a special assessment of $100 to the Federal Crime Victims Fund.

In a separate hearing on the same day, Donel Takes The Gun, 55, of Little Eagle, South Dakota, was sentenced to eight months in federal prison, followed by three years of supervised release. He was also ordered to pay $15,935.93 in restitution to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and make a special assessment of $100 to the Federal Crime Victims Fund.

The conviction of Iron Cloud Sr. stems from between March and May 2020, when Iron Cloud, Sr., stole, embezzled, converted and spent in his own interest nearly $24,000 in funds belonging to the Oyate Community Development Corporation, a non-profit organization of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe that focuses on renewing and continuing entrepreneurial developments within the reservation to drive economic success.

Though the development corporation is listed as permanently closed on Google, a representative from the non-profit confirmed Monday they are continuing to operate.

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Takes The Gun was sentenced in connection with a scheme that ran from October 2017 through March 2020, in which he stole, embezzled, converted and spent nearly $16,000 in funds belonging to the Running Antelope District of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.

After both investigations were conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Iron Cloud, Sr., was indicted by a federal grand jury in September 2021, while Takes the Gun was indicted in April 2022. Both men later pleaded guilty to their charges.

In their individual sentencing hearings, U.S. District Judge Charles Kornmann gave Iron Cloud, Sr., until Nov. 1 to report to the U.S. Marshals Service to begin his span in federal prison. Takes The Gun, however, was immediately remanded to custody.

Despite the similarities in the case, the U.S. Attorney’s Office gave no indication that either case was connected to one another.

Both cases were prosecuted as part of the Guardians Project, a federal initiative to coordinate efforts between citizens and law enforcement agencies to expose public corruption, fraud and embezzlement involving federal monies, while also “holding accountable those who are responsible for adversely affecting those living in South Dakota’s Indian country communities.”

The Guardians Project is another step of federal law enforcement’s ongoing efforts to increase engagement, coordination and positive action on behalf of tribal communities.

Led by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, other agencies participating in the Guardians Project include: the FBI; the Departments of Interior, Health and Human Services, Agriculture, Transportation, Education, Justice, and Housing and Urban Development; the Social Security Administration, the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation Division; the U.S. Postal Inspection Service; and the U.S. Postal Service’s Office of Inspector General.

Federal law enforcement agencies encourage members of the public to contact federal law enforcement or their district’s U.S. Attorney’s Office with any tips regarding public corruption, fraud, embezzlement and more involving federal officials or monies.

Dunteman covers general and breaking news as well as crime in the Mitchell Republic's 17-county coverage area. He grew up in Harrisburg, and has lived in South Dakota for over 20 years. He joined the Mitchell Republic in June 2021 after earning his bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota Duluth. He can be reached at HDunteman@MitchellRepublic.com, or on Twitter @HRDunt.
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