Friday, October 30, 2020

Former Choctaw official, wife charged with wire fraud, money laundering conspiracy


A former member of the Tribal Council for the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians and his wife have been arraigned on a Superseding Indictment for theft/embezzlement, wire fraud, money laundering conspiracy, and false statements to a bank, in separate schemes to defraud the Tribal government with false claims for travel reimbursement payments and to improperly influence a federally-insured bank.

A superseding indictment returned by a federal grand jury on September 10, charges the former Tribal Council member and his wife with defrauding the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, as well as misleading a federally insured bank with intent to obtain loans.

48-year-old Kevin Edwards, of Walnut Grove, was charged with one count of theft, two counts of wire fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, two counts of money laundering, and three counts of false statements to a bank.

45-year-old Sheena A. Edwards of Walnut Grove was charged with one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, two counts of money laundering, and one count of false statements to a bank.

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Between March 2015 and June 2017, the husband and wife are alleged to have forged hotel bills and receipts, and submitted those documents to the Tribal government in claims for reimbursement for official business travel by Kevin Edwards.

Edwards is a former Member of the Tribal Council who left office in June 2017.

After receiving the unlawful payments from the tribal government, the two defendants cashed and transferred the payments to multiple bank accounts and paid off personal loans in the name of Sheena Edwards.

In addition, both defendants made false statements on multiple personal loan applications to a local bank, inflating Kevin Edwards’s salary and claiming Kevin Edwards was employed by the Tribe after he had left office.

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Kevin Edwards appeared before in court for arraignment on October 4, and his wife Sheena Edwards appeared for arraignment September 25.

Kevin Edwards is charged with one count of Theft or Embezzlement from a Tribal Organization, which carries a maximum sentence of imprisonment of five years. In addition, Kevin Edwards is charged with two counts of Wire Fraud, which charges carry a maximum term of imprisonment of twenty years.

Each count also can merit a fine of up to $250,000 and up to three years of supervised release.

Both Kevin and Sheena Edwards face charges of conspiracy to launder money and substantive acts of money laundering, which carries a maximum penalty of twenty years imprisonment for each count; and charges of False Statements to a Bank, which carries a maximum penalty of thirty years for each count.

Each of those counts also can merit a fine of up to $250,000 and up to five years of supervised release.

The case is set for trial before United States District Judge Henry T. Wingate on November 25, 2019, in Jackson, Mississippi.


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