Casino marketing leader sentenced in theft-for-drugs scheme

November 23, 2019 GMT

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — The marketing director for a casino on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in the Dakotas has been sentenced for a scheme to give club rewards to gamblers in exchange for drugs.

Candace Crow Ghost, 42, of Fort Yates, North Dakota, pleaded guilty in August to theft by an employee of an Indian gaming establishment. Crow Ghost worked for the Grand River Casino in Mobridge, South Dakota.

Authorities say Crow Ghost hatched a plan to obtain prescription pain pills by adjusting points on individual players club rewards cards to pay for the drugs she was receiving. After adjusting the points, Crow Ghost allegedly prepared vouchers and helped the individuals redeem their illegally obtained points for cash.

Crow Ghost is also accused of giving free rooms and meals to the individuals involved in the swap.

Authorities say Crow Ghost added 426,000 points to various accounts and handed out over $1,000 in rooms and meals, resulting in a total loss to the casino of about $5,300.

U.S. District Judge Ron Parsons of South Dakota sentenced Crow Ghost to more than five months in prison, followed by 24 months of supervised release. She was ordered to pay back the money to the casino.

Authorities say Crow Ghost was the casino marketing director between December 2016 and March 2017.

U.S. Attorney Ron Parsons of South Dakota says the case was brought as part of The Guardians Project, a federal law enforcement initiative to coordinate efforts between various agencies and promote public disclosure of public corruption, fraud and embezzlement.