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Ex-Choctaw Nation Construction Official Charged In Embezzlement Scheme

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Choctaw Nation capitol building in Durant. [file photo] Choctaw Nation capitol building in Durant. [file photo]
MUSKOGEE, Oklahoma -

A former construction official for the Choctaw Nation has been indicted on federal charges in connection with an alleged embezzlement scheme.

Jason Brett Merida of Rattan is charged in federal court in Muskogee with conspiracy, theft, tax fraud and money laundering. The Oklahoman reports that prosecutors say he used money collected from false construction bills to pay for hunting and golf trips, at least 52 firearms, a sport utility vehicle and cosmetic surgery for his wife.

Merida did not return phone calls seeking comment.

The tribe lost an estimated $7 million in the scheme that was uncovered during a routine audit.

Merida supervised tribal construction projects and approved payments related to those projects.

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