Former Choctaw construction director sentenced

Ponca City Now - June 2, 2015 8:50 am

MUSKOGEE, Okla. (AP) – A former Choctaw Nation construction director has been sentenced to 12 years in prison in a bribery and tax fraud case in Oklahoma.

The Tulsa World (http://bit.ly/1I85Gxk ) reports Jason Merida was sentenced Monday. He must also pay restitution to the IRS and the Choctaw Nation.

He was convicted in November on two counts each of theft and tax fraud and one count each of conspiracy to commit money laundering and conspiracy to commit bribery.

Prosecutors say contractors used false billing practices between 2008 and 2011 while construction was underway at the tribe’s Durant and Pocola casinos. According to prosecutors, money generated from the false billings was used to make campaign donations and purchase gifts.

Merida testified he had received gifts, but argued that it didn’t affect his decision making because he did not have the authority to select contractors.

 

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