July 25, 2014

Ho-Chunk member faces hard time

A Ho-Chunk tribal member could receive more than 100 years in federal prison, when he’s sentenced on 12 convictions for charges including bribery and filing false income tax reports. Prosecutors claimed 60-year-old Timothy Whiteagle received more than $3 million from companies wanting to do business with the tribe.

A jury concurred, and found Whiteagle, of Black River Falls, guilty Wednesday on all 12 counts following an eight-day trial. Prosecutors alleged that Whiteagle was a lobbyist for companies that provided ATM and check-cashing services at Ho-Chunk casinos, and for a business that wanted to provide housing and mortgages to tribal members.

Whiteagle received assistance from 55-year-old Deborah Atherton of Black River Falls, who pleaded guilty in July and faces a maximum of five years in federal prison at her October 10th sentencing. A third person, 53-year-old Ho-Chunk legislator Clarence Pettibone, pleaded guilty to accepting a bribe and was sentenced on July 11 to five years in federal prison.

Prosecutors said Whiteagle gave Pettibone money and valuables, and that Whiteagle and Atherton solicited clients seeking Ho-Chunk business to do the same.

“This prosecution demonstrates the commitment by this office and the U.S. Department of Justice to vigorously investigate and prosecute corruption in tribal governments,” said United States Attorney Vaudreuil.

U.S. District Judge William M. Conley scheduled Whiteagle’s sentencing for October 24th, at which time he faces 111 years in prison.