- Associated Press - Monday, April 27, 2015

SHAWNEE, Okla. (AP) - A Shawnee man has been arrested for allegedly embezzling over $180,000 from a small business program funded by the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, the largest employer in Pottawatomie County.

Court records show 35-year-old Thomas Bierd was arrested Thursday and faces six federal counts of embezzlement and theft.

An indictment unsealed on Thursday also alleges 41-year-old Kristi Bias, a former CPN employee, would issue five-figure checks to illegitimate companies controlled by Bierd, who in turn would give her some of the funds. The indictment also accused her of creating false documents and keeps them on file in the company’s offices.

The indictment says six separate thefts by the two produced checks that totaled about $182,000.

Bierd has posted bail, and his trial date is set for June. It was not immediately clear if Bierd has an attorney. A search of Oklahoma court records reveals that Bierd was arrested in 1998 for breaking and entering. He pleaded guilty and received probation, records show, but he hasn’t been in trouble since.

According to prosecutors, Bias pleaded guilty to related charges in November and is awaiting sentencing.

Citizen Potawatomi Nation spokesman John VanPool declined to comment on the case.

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