Tribal Council Member Jailed for Embezzlement

     TACOMA, Wash. (CN) — A former Makah Tribal Council member will serve six months in prison for embezzling $30,000 from the tribe.
     Ryland Chad Bowechop, of Bellingham, was charged in June 2015 with one count of embezzling from an Indian tribal organization.
     He pleaded guilty in February, admitting he used a tribal credit card for cash advances at casinos, hotel and resort charges and other personal expenses.
     When council members confronted Bowechop, he said he was “too intoxicated at the time” to remember making the withdrawals, the government said in its complaint.
     Bowechop said he had a gambling problem and took full responsibility for the theft.
     “I am ashamed of what I did. I wish that I could turn back the clock and handle things differently,” Bowechop told the court in a statement.
     U.S. District Judge Ronald B. Leighton sentenced Bowechop on Friday to six months in prison and ordered him to pay $30,000 in restitution to the tribe.
     “Not only did this defendant steal $30,000 from his own tribe, but he betrayed the trust of the people he was supposed to serve,” U. S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes said in a statement.
     “The loss of funds is significant, but can be remedied. The loss of trust has impacts that are much harder to repair.”

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