A Nevada resident and former manager of the Warm Springs Construction Enterprise (WSCE) pleaded guilty Monday in federal court for his role in a fraud scheme targeting the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs.
Thomas Valentino Adams pleaded guilty to theft of funds from a Tribal organization, according to the Oregon U.S. Attorney’s office.
According to court documents, the Warm Springs Economic Development Corporation (WSEDC), also known as Warm Springs Ventures (WSV), is a Tribal organization owned and operated by the Warm Springs Tribes. WSV operates as the management organization for several Tribal business entities, including WSCE.
Adams and an accomplice; Roderick Ariwite, the former CEO of WSEDC, Adams’ manager at WSCE, and resident of the Fort Hall Reservation in Idaho; created a construction company called Warbonnet Construction Services LLC.
While drawing tribal salaries and travel reimbursements, Adams and Ariwite engaged in work projects for Warbonnet. In 2018, Adams and Ariwite used tribal funds to hire a subcontractor for a Warbonnet project and submitted vouchers for expenses they incurred they took on behalf of themselves and Warbonnet, which were reimbursed with tribal funds. In total, Adams and Ariwite’s scheme cost the Warm Springs Tribes more than $50,000.
On September 24, 2020, a federal grand jury in Portland returned a six-count indictment charging Adams and Ariwite with conspiracy and theft of funds from a Tribal organization.
Adams faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release. He will be sentenced on November 15, 2021 before U.S. District Court Judge Michael W. Mosman.
Adams has agreed to pay $4,859 in restitution to the Warm Springs Tribes.
Ariwite is on pre-trial release pending a three-day jury trial scheduled to begin on September 14.
Acting U.S. Attorney Scott Erik Asphaug of the District of Oregon made the announcement.
This case was investigated by the FBI with assistance from the Warm Springs Police Department. It was prosecuted by Meredith Bateman and Seth Uram, Assistant U.S. Attorneys for the District of Oregon.