UPDATE: Former Ho-Chunk Nation Legislator Pleads Guilty To Federal Bribery Charge

UPDATED: Wednesday, July 11, 2012 --- 9:02p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A former Ho-Chunk Nation legislator has been sentenced to five years in federal prison for bribery.

Prosecutors say Clarence Pettibone had extensive knowledge of a bribery scheme involving contracts awarded by the Ho-Chunk Nation that ran from 2002 to 2009. They said the overall scheme took in $3 million. Among other things, he was accused of supporting Trinity Financial Group for a $250,000 housing study in exchange for a Pontiac Firebird.

The 53-year-old Black River Falls man pleaded guilty to accepting a bribe in April.

U.S. District Judge William Conley sentenced Pettibone Wednesday and called him a "corrupt official" who took multiple bribes. Conley said Pettibone violated the trust of the Ho-Chunk Nation and that his sentence should send a message that corruption will not be tolerated.

Copyright 2012. The Associated Press.
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UPDATED Wednesday, April 11, 2012 --- 8:15 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A former Ho-Chunk legislator has pleaded guilty to bribery in federal court.

Fifty-three-year-old Clarence Pettibone, of Black River Falls, was accused of supporting Trinity Financial Group for a $250,000 housing study in exchange for a Pontiac Firebird.

Two representatives of Trinity Financial are also charged with bribery conspiracy. They face trial in July in the Western District of federal court. Pettibone was a Ho-Chunk government official from 2000 to 2009. He's facing a maximum 10 years in federal prison when he's sentenced July 11.

The FBI and Internal Revenue Service investigated.

Copyright 2012. The Associated Press.

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Posted Wednesday, April 11, 2012 --- 6:55 a.m.

From the U.S. Attorney's Office:

Madison, Wis. - John W. Vaudreuil, United States Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin, announced that Clarence Pettibone, 53, Black River Falls, Wis., pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court in Madison to accepting a bribe in violation of federal law.

U.S. District Chief Judge William M. Conley scheduled sentencing for July 11, 2012.

Pettibone faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison.

Pettibone was charged in a bribery conspiracy, along with co-defendants Timothy Whiteagle and Deborah Atherton.

The trial of Whiteagle and Atherton is scheduled to start on July 23, 2012.

At the hearing, Pettibone acknowledged the following facts:

The Ho-Chunk Nation is an Indian tribal government. Tribal members of the Ho-Chunk Nation live and work in Western District Wisconsin.

From 2002 to 2009, Clarence Pettibone was a Ho-Chunk government official – an elected Ho-Chunk legislator. At various times from 2002 to 2009, Pettibone served as vice president, as chairman of the legislature's Finance Committee, and as a member of the legislature's Development Committee.

In 2006 and 2007, Pettibone knew that co-defendants Timothy Whiteagle and Deborah Atherton represented a company known as Trinity Financial Group ("Trinity").

During that time, Pettibone officially supported Trinity in the Ho-Chunk Nation legislature, and Trinity received $250,000 from the Nation for a preliminary housing study.

In 2007, Whiteagle and Atherton gave Pettibone a 1989 Pontiac Firebird worth $8,000, and Pettibone accepted the car knowing it was intended to influence and to reward him for his support of Trinity.

The charges against Pettibone were the result of an investigation conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Internal Revenue Service.

The prosecution of the case has been handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Stephen P. Sinnott and Laura Przybylinski Finn.

You are advised that a charge is merely an accusation and that co-defendants Timothy Whiteagle and Deborah Atherton are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.


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