Sazue re-elected as Crow Creek chairmanBrandon Sazue Sr. wore a wire and testified against other tribal leaders in federal corruption trial.
By: Anna Jauhola, The Daily Republic
FORT THOMPSON — A former Crow Creek tribal leader has regained his position of power on the reservation.
Brandon Sazue Sr. was elected tribal chairman April 19. Sazue was previously elected chairman in 2008 but lost his seat in 2010 to Duane Big Eagle Sr., who had served previous terms as chairman totaling nearly 20 years.
Big Eagle lost the position after he was convicted of bribery and conspiracy in 2011. Sazue aided federal law enforcement in its investigation into the charges against Big Eagle and several other tribal officials who were involved in bribes connected to school construction work.
To gather information for the case, Sazue wore a wire to tape 25 to 35 conversations. At Big Eagle’s trial, the recordings were used to prove Big Eagle’s involvement in the corrupt scheme.
Big Eagle was sentenced to three years in prison for two counts of conspiracy to bribe a tribal official and one count of bribery.
The charges related to tribal officials’ actions in awarding a $3.5 million contract to build a new dorm and kitchen facility after a 2005 fire at the tribal school and later contracts to build housing at the school. Other tribal officials and contractors had already been convicted for their roles in the scheme, which involved contractors giving tribal officials thousands of dollars in bribes in return for receiving contracts.
Others elected April 19 include tribal council members Eric Big Eagle (incumbent), Rolland Hawk (incumbent), Terry Abernathy, Wayne McGhee, Leonard Pease Jr. and Wayne Big Eagle.