Wisconsin Turtle Bay Casino Ex-Employee Indicted for Alleged Embezzlement

Posted on: October 28, 2020, 08:25h. 

Last updated on: October 28, 2020, 10:29h.

A Wisconsin grand jury has indicted a former Turtle Bay casino worker accused of embezzling over $72,000 from the tribal gaming property. He faces up to 160 years in prison.

There were eight different counts of embezzlement by a former casino worker
The St. Croix Chippewa of Wisconsin has cooperated with federal officials in a worker embezzlement inquiry. Above, former Tribal Chairman Lewis Taylor. (Image: Burnett County Sentinel)

Leva Oustigoff, Jr., 58, of Cumberland, WI., was indicted on eight different counts of embezzlement, the US Attorney’s Office said in a recent statement.

The counts began approximately in December 2015, and lasted until about January 2018, federal officials further claim in a statement. The largest single amount in any of the counts was about $20,000. If convicted, Oustigoff faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison on each count.

Oustigoff was given the summons to appear before a federal court following last week’s indictment. Currently, he has not been arrested. Nor is he in custody.

Court Date to Come

His initial court appearance also has not been set, according to the office of Wisconsin US Attorney Scott C. Blader. That date and time will be scheduled by court officials.

Oustigoff is expected to appear before Western Wisconsin federal Magistrate Stephen Crocker. It will likely be an appearance via Zoom rather than in-person because of coronavirus risk.

The indictment is a result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the IRS. The St. Croix tribe cooperated, federal officials said.

The Turtle Lake Casino is operated by the St. Croix Chippewa Indians of Wisconsin. A spokeswoman for the US Attorney’s office on Tuesday declined to release more details on the case.

NIGC Sent Notice to Tribe on Questionable Expenses

Last year, it was claimed the St. Croix Chippewa of Wisconsin allegedly used casino funds to pay over $301,000 to Lawrence Larsen between 2015 and 2017 for consulting services on marijuana and related products.

He was paid from money generated at St. Croix Casino Turtle Lake because of the tribe’s interest in growing marijuana to produce hemp and Cannabidiol (CBD).

Casino funds were also used to pay for Larsen’s first-class flights to Hawaii, Atlanta, and Seattle. Additionally, he was given $21,247 in casino funds for a 4×4 off-road vehicle, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

The payments were among those highlighted by the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) in its Notice of Violation (NOV) dated April 11, 2019.

The NIGC is a national regulator that monitors tribal gaming. It claims the money paid to Larsen is among the $1.5 million that was spent improperly by the tribe. Last year, the NIGC sent the tribe a 29-page Notice of Violation (NOV) listing 527 infringements of tribal and federal rules.

Tribe Asked to Pay $4.5M

In August, the tribe was asked to pay $4.5 million in fines for alleged wrongdoing, according to Law360, an online legal publication.

The fine was lowered by the NIGC from $5.5 million because of hardship from the coronavirus pandemic on the tribe, Law360 said.