Two current and one former tribal official for the Three Affiliated Tribes of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation are accused of accepting bribes from a contractor working on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation.
Randall Jude Phelan, 55, of Mandaree, a Tribal Business Council representative; Delvin Reeves, 52, of Watford City, an employee of the tribal government; and Frank Charles Grady, 52, of Hardin, Montana, a former Tribal Business Council representative were each charged with one count of conspiracy and one count of federal programs bribery.
According to the affidavit in support of the complaints against them, Phelan and Reeves solicited and accepted bribes and kickbacks from the contractor beginning in approximately 2013 and continuing through this year. The complaint alleges that, in exchange for the payments, Phelan and Reeves used their official positions to help the contractor’s business, including by awarding contracts, fabricating bids during purportedly competitive bidding processes, advocating for the contractor with other tribal officials, and facilitating the submission and payment of fraudulent invoices.
The complaint against Grady alleges that he solicited and accepted bribes and kickbacks beginning in approximately January 2016 and continuing through September 2017. The affidavit in support of the complaint alleges that Grady used his official position to help the contractor’s business, including by awarding contracts, pressuring other construction companies to award subcontracting work, advocating for the contractor with other tribal officials, and facilitating the submission and payment of fraudulent invoices. The complaints allege that the defendants each accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes and kickbacks.
In the complaint, investigators wrote that the contractor, who is not identified by name, often made payments to Reeves on the same day the tribe made payments to his company. He claimed that he’d paid Reeves about $1 million in bribes, and an investigation discovered more than 60 payments.
“Analysis conducted by the FBI’ s forensic accountants of subpoenaed bank records shows that (the contractor) paid Reeves approximately $633,000 via 67 separate payments from in or around August 2013 through in or around October 2019,” the complaint reads. “The payments included seven wire transfers, 57 checks, and seven cashier’s checks, all originating from bank accounts controlled by (the contractor).”