Four former Pawhuska Indian Village board members charged with the misuse of public funds appeared Thursday in Osage Nation Trial Court before ON Associate Judge Lee Stout.
Status conferences were held for defendants Kenneth "K.C." Bills, Theodore Brunt and Frank Redcorn, while the fourth defendant, Joe Don Mashunkashey, appeared for a no-issue deposition.
Stout recently was named to preside over the case in place of Trial Court Chief Judge Marvin Stepson, who handled preliminary arraignments in February.
The four men are charged in connection with funds derived from a lease agreement for the Osage Casino-Pawhuska site, which is located at the southeast corner of the Indian Village communal property.
Osage Nation Attorney General Jeff Jones filed tribal charges in the case Jan. 30 after the U.S. Attorney’s Office declined to prosecute. The investigation stemmed from a September 2012 audit report by the Osage Nation Office of Fiscal Performance and Review, which could not account for approximately $806,000 in Village revenue.
The report showed that, between November 2008 and July 2012, Pawhuska Indian Village’s five-man governing board received a little more than $857,000 from its rental lease with Osage Casino and its predecessor, Osage Million Dollar Elm Casino.
When OFPR staff attempted an audit of the village finances, Mashunkashey, who was chairman of the Five-Man Board, allegedly declined to participate. The final report stated that almost $50,000 of the lease money was used to pay utility bills for Village residences, including more than $12,244 for Mashunkashey’s personal residence.
Mushankashey resigned less than a week after the OFPR report was released. The former chairman of the Village board later apologized to the community and said that he had repaid the money used for his electric bills.
All four men pleaded innocent to the charges during their initial court appearances before Stepson.
Conviction for an Osage Nation charge of misusing public funds is punishable by a fine of up to $1,000, a jail term of as much as one year, and/or tribal banishment for a period of five to 10 years.