- By Native News Online Staff
PORTLAND, Ore. — A former manager of Warm Springs Construction Enterprise (WSCE), a company wholly owned by the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, pleaded guilty on Monday in federal court for his role to defraud the tribe of more than $50,000.
Thomas Valentino Adams, who is not a tribal citizen, pleaded guilty to theft of funds from a tribal organization.
Valentino and an accomplice, Roderick Ariwite, were indicted last September for conspiring to misappropriate $93,700 of tribal funds and with five counts of substantive misappropriation of tribal funds.
According to court documents, the Warm Springs Economic Development Corporation, also known as Warm Springs Ventures, operates as the management organization for several tribal business entities, including WSCE.
Adams and Ariwite, the former CEO of WSEDC, created a construction company called Warbonnet Construction Services LLC. While on payroll for Warm Springs Ventures, the two worked on projects for Warbonnet. In 2018, Adams and Ariwite hired a subcontractor for a Warbonnet project and then billed for expenses incurred as they took funds for themselves and Warbonnet, which were paid for with tribal funds.
The scheme cost the tribe more than $50,000.
After his plea on Monday, Adams was scheduled to be sentenced before U.S. District Court Judge Michael W. Mosman on Nov. 15, 2021. He faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release.
Adams has agreed to pay $4,859 in restitution to the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs.
Ariwite is on pretrial release pending a three-day jury trial scheduled to begin on September 14, 2021.
Acting U.S. Attorney Scott Erik Asphaug of the District of Oregon made the announcement.
This case was investigated by the FBI with assistance from the Warm Springs Police Department. It was prosecuted by Meredith Bateman and Seth Uram, Assistant U.S. Attorneys for the District of Oregon.
Warm Springs Construction Enterprise (WSCE) began as a department of the Warm Springs Tribal Government and struck out as a small tribal enterprise in 2001, according to the tribe's website. WSCE is wholly owned by the Tribe and operates at around 85% native employment. The firms has decades of government contracting and a focus on of civil infrastructure installation.
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