Paiute Tribe planner sentenced for embezzling over $175,000

Jeffrey Charles Zander was sentenced to over five years in prison for allegedly embezzling money from the Paiute Tribe.

Federal authorities say that beginning in 2005, Zander applied for grants on behalf of the tribe and pocketed more than $175,000 for his personal use.

U.S. District Judge David Nuffer sentenced Zander to 68 months in federal prison. He was also ordered to pay over $200,000 in restitution. Zander’s convictions include mail and wire fraud, money laundering, and failure to file tax returns. The convictions followed a one-week trial.

Authorities say that 58-year-old Zander worked for the tribe in various capacities starting in 1998.

Zander held titles such as tribal planner, general counsel, and economic development and trust resources director. The tribe hired Zander as general counsel despite the fact that he wasn’t a lawyer.

The embezzlement scheme was elaborate. Zander allegedly applied for Integrated Resource Management Plan grants. These are long-term plans to balance the use of tribal resources between the tribe members and revenue-generating activities. Zander then set up a serieis of bogus consulting companies and told the tribe that he was hand-delivering checks to the consultants. In reality, Zander was depositing funds into his personal bank accounts in Provo, Salt Lake City, and Las Vegas.

“This defendant devised a scheme that caused the Paiute Nation to suffer substantial financial losses over a period of many years,” said Mary F. Rook, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Salt Lake City. “I believe this investigation highlights law enforcement’s ongoing commitment to investigating and prosecuting criminal activity on Native American lands in Utah.”

The Paiute Tribe is a Native American group with a population of around 6,300. The tribe is spread throughout Arizona, California, Nevada, Oregon and Utah.

The Salt Lake City criminal defense team at Greg Smith & Associates handles white collar crime cases throughout Utah. If you or a loved one is under investigation or has been charged with a financial crime, call us at 801-651-1512 or contact us online.

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