Former Muscogee (Creek) Nation Chief George Tiger pleaded guilty in federal court Friday after a grand jury indicted him for bribery involving federal funds.
Tiger had pleaded not guilty to the same charge in August but returned to court for a change of plea. He did not comment on his way out of the courthouse, leaving with his attorney and several family members.
“This plea reinforces the message that law enforcement will not tolerate tribal officials who engage in corrupt activity for personal financial gain at the expense of the people they serve,” said Melissa Godbold, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Oklahoma City Division.
Most of Tiger's conversation with the judge focused on making sure Tiger was clearheaded and understood the decision he was making. The judge also wanted to make sure there was a factual basis to Tiger's plea.
At one point, the judge asked Tiger if he acted corruptly.
Tiger paused, talked to his attorney and said to the judge, "According to the law, yes."
The U.S. Attorney's Office says Tiger was working as an agent for the Alabama-Quassarte Tribal Town at the time of the bribery. The indictment says Tiger served as the Chairman of the Economic Development Authority Board and demanded bribes during a series of transactions for the town.
Records show the bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds took place from late September 2017 through February of this year.
“Instead of acting in the best interests of those he was appointed to serve Tiger sought out and received unlawful profit for himself," said United States Attorney Brian J. Kuester.
Tiger lost his bid for re-election with the Muscogee (Creek) Nation in 2015. The accusations were made after Tiger's time as principal chief, and the Muscogee (Creek) Nation says the charges are in no way connected to the tribe.
Tiger, 69, was released until his sentencing which could be months from now.
“Mr. Tiger took advantage of the position of trust he had been given by the people of the Alabama-Quassarte Tribal Town. Instead of acting in the best interests of those he was appointed to serve Tiger sought out and received unlawful profit for himself,” said Kuester.