A former tribal planner, general counsel and economic development and trust resources director for the Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah was sentenced Wednesday to 68 months in federal prison.
Jeffrey Charles Zander, 58, was convicted of mail and wire fraud, money laundering, and willful failure to file tax returns during a week-long trial in U.S. District Court in March.
Judge David Nuffer, who ordered Zander to pay $202,543.92 in restitution, allowed the defendant to self-surrender to begin his prison sentence.
Zander was charged in February 2012 with two counts of mail fraud, two counts of wire fraud, one count of money laundering, and three counts of willful failure to file a tax return.
"Prosecuting white collar crime cases is a high priority for our office," U.S. Attorney David B. Barlow said in a statement Thursday. "This case is particularly egregious because it involves a person in a position of trust with the Paiute Tribe ..."
Zander began working as tribal planner for the Paiute Tribe around October 1998, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. About two years later, he became the tribe's economic development director and trust resources director. And around September 2007, Zander who had no license to practice law convinced the tribe to hire him as general counsel.
Trial evidence showed that beginning in 2005, Zander developed a scheme to divert more than $175,000 for his personal use that had been awarded to the tribe through grant proposals.
The scheme came to light when a transaction raised a red flag with a bank teller and, at about the same time, tribal leaders started to uncover the defendant's deceit and misrepresentations, according to prosecutors. Zander was fired from his tribal position and the case was turned over to the FBI.