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Big Eagle appeals conviction

Duane Big Eagle

PIERRE -- The appeal of a former Crow Creek Sioux tribal chairman sentenced to three years in prison for bribery and accepting kickbacks should be denied, says a brief filed Tuesday by the U.S. Attorney's Office.

A federal jury convicted Duane Big Eagle, 62, in August of two counts of conspiracy to bribe a tribal official and one count of aiding and abetting the bribery of a tribal official. He filed an appeal of the conviction on Dec. 13.

The conviction stems from two incidents, one in 2005 and another in 2008, in which tribal officials took kickbacks from contractors they hired with federal funds.

The issue presented in Big Eagle's appeal, in a brief filed March 6 by his attorney Dana Hanna, of Rapid City, centers around evidence admitted during the trial.

Hanna's brief claims evidence of other conspiracies Big Eagle may have been involved in, but was not charged with in the indictment, should not have been admitted as evidence.

The U.S. Attorneys' brief rejects that claim.

"Both conspiracies are tied together by the rampant corruption in the Big Eagle administration," the brief states.

"Any contractor who wanted work had to be willing to pay Big Eagle and his co-conspirators bribes and kickbacks."

The U.S. Attorneys' brief then references a pretrial hearing in which the district court agreed that "the corruption was inextricably tied together."

As Big Eagle or his attorney never objected further, the brief states, the convictions should be affirmed.

Big Eagle's reply brief is due May 1.