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Area woman sentenced for diverting funds from tribal account

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LINCOLN — A Norfolk woman has been sentenced to probation and fined for diverting funds intended for victims of domestic abuse in the Ponca Tribe of Ne braska to her own use.

Andrea Rodriguez, 42, was sentenced Friday by U.S. District Judge John Gerrard for two counts of embezzlement and theft from an Indian tribal organization.

She was sentenced to four years probation, fined $10,100 and ordered to pay restitution for the $19,432 she stole.

Rodriguez had been employed as the director of the Ponca Tribe’s Domestic Violence Department. In that role, she was responsible for handing out federal Victims of Crime Act grants.

But instead of getting funds for the grocery, medical and home-furnishing needs of victims of domestic violence, Rodriguez falsified documents so the money came to her for her personal bills.

Curt Muller, an agent with the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General, said that agency does not tolerate attempts to defraud federal programs, “especially those involving vulnerable populations.”