Mike Hurst

Mike Hurst

A federal grand jury has indicted a former member of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians Tribal Council and his wife on charges of theft, wire fraud, money laundering conspiracy and bank fraud.

Kevin Edwards, 48, and Sheena A. Edwards, 45, both of Walnut Grove have been arraigned on a superseding indictment for theft/embezzlement, wire fraud, money laundering conspiracy, and false statements to a bank, in separate schemes to defraud the tribal government with false claims for travel reimbursement payments and to improperly influence a federally-insured bank, United States Attorney Mike Hurst and Michelle A. Sutphin, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Mississippi, announced Monday.

A superseding indictment was returned by a federal grand jury on Sept.10, 2019.

Kevin Edwards was charged with one count of theft, two counts of wire fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, two counts of money laundering, and three counts of false statements to a bank, according to the announcement by Hurst and Sutphin.

Sheena A. Edwards was charged with one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, two counts of money laundering, and one count of false statements to a bank, according to the announcement.

Between March 2015 and June 2017, the couple are alleged to have forged hotel bills and receipts, and submitted those documents to the tribal government in claims for reimbursement for official business travel by Kevin Edwards. Edwards left office in June 2017. After receiving the payments, the two defendants cashed and transferred the payments to bank accounts and paid off personal loans in the name of Sheena Edwards, according to the announcement.

Both defendants made false statements on personal loan applications to a local bank, inflating Kevin Edwards’s salary and claiming Kevin Edwards was employed by the tribe after he had left office, according to the announcement.

Kevin Edwards appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Linda Anderson for arraignment on Oct. 4. Sheena Edwards appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Linda Anderson for arraignment on Sept. 25.

Kevin Edwards is charged with one count of Theft or Embezzlement from a Tribal Organization, which carries a maximum sentence of imprisonment of five years. He is charged with two counts of Wire Fraud, which carry a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years. Each count also can merit a fine of up to $250,000 and up to three years of supervised release.

Both Kevin and Sheena Edwards face charges of Conspiracy to launder money and substantive acts of Money Laundering, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years imprisonment for each count; and charges of False Statements to a Bank, which carries a maximum penalty of 30 years for each count. Each of those counts also can merit a fine of up to $250,000 and up to five years of supervised release.

U.S. District Judge Henry T. Wingate is scheduled to hear the case on Nov. 25 in Jackson. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Theodore Cooperstein.

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