A former Winnebago Tribal Council member indicted last summer in a conspiracy to steal from the tribe's casino got five years of probation at his sentencing Monday in federal court in Omaha.

Lawrence Payer pleaded guilty to misapplying funds belonging to an Indian gaming establishment.

Chief U.S. District Judge Laurie Smith Camp also ordered Payer to pay $36,000 in restitution.

He was the first of four former council members to enter guilty pleas in the case. Louis Houghton is set to be sentenced later this month, Charles Aldrich in September, and Thomas Snowball Jr., who pleaded guilty Monday, in November.

They were among nine indicted last year by a federal grand jury for conspiracy, theft and misapplication of funds belonging to an Indian gaming establishment, and wire fraud. Five others are awaiting trial: John Blackhawk, Darwin Snyder, Travis Mallory, Morgan Earth and Ramona Wolfe.

According to the federal indictment, the defendants granted themselves funds from the WinnaVegas Casino without accounting for them through the tribe’s payroll department or approving their distribution at a regular tribal council meeting.

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Lori Pilger is a public safety reporter.

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