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Former tribal leader sentenced for taking bribes in North Dakota

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A former government official of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation has been sentenced to five years in prison for accepting bribes and kickbacks from a construction contractor at Fort Berthold Indian Reservation in North Dakota.

Randall Phelan, 58, of Mandaree, was an elected representative of the governing body of the Three Affiliated Tribes from 2013 to 2020. Investigators said Phelan solicited and accepted bribes totaling more than $645,000 and helped the contractor’s business by awarding contracts, fabricating bids and managing fraudulent invoices.

He was sentenced Monday after pleading guilty in October to conspiracy to commit bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds, honest services wire fraud and bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds. He had faced a maximum of 20 years in prison.

Co-conspirator Delvin Reeves, who was a project manager, was sentenced in November to about five years in prison after pleading guilty in 2021 to one count of bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds, the Bismarck Tribune reported.

Contractor Francisco Javier Solis Chacon was sentenced in February to a year in prison after pleading guilty to bribery, according to court documents.

The three men also were ordered to pay restitution: Phelan $271,900, Reeves $1.3 million and Solis Chacon $818,300.