By Mervin Brass

Robin Ritter

Crown prosecutor Robin Ritter told court Hugo Gallegos’s lifestyle is something many people only dream of. Photo credit: Treaty 4 News.

For over an hour, Crown prosecutor Robin Ritter told court one anecdote after another about the lavish lifestyle of Hugo Gallegos.

The former Whitecap Dakota First Nation accountant was handed a five-year sentence today for stealing $5.8 million dollars while employed by the band.

Ritter told Justice Richard Danyliuk, Gallegos spent more than $20,000 in a 10-day period, adding that Gallegos won more than $700,000 at the Dakota Dunes Casino but did not know how much he spent to win that amount of money.

Ritter also told court Gallegos was on the radar as one of the top gamblers in the city.

“You can see a lifestyle many people only dream of,” Ritter said while concluding his submission.

Ritter told reporters outside of court what happened when police searched Gallegos’s storage unit.

“About $200,000 worth of Prada shoes were located. I think that points to an excessive lifestyle, the life of a high roller,” said Ritter. “Going into a store and spending $700 on socks is also a little over the top, but he was doing this with other people’s money.”

Before handing down his sentence, Justice Danyliuk told Gallegos that it was his lying, cheating and stealing that supported his obscene lifestyle.

As for Gallegos, he stood up trembling, apologizing to the people he hurt, that he let down, to the band members, “I got caught up in this craziness.”

“I don’t really think I was listening to him,” said Whitecap Dakota First Nation Chief Darcy Bear. “I was too busy thinking about how we go forward.”

He said since the crime, the band has replaced all of the staff from the finance department and implemented stricter financial policies.

When Bear first heard of the theft it left him wondering how could this have happened.

“We were still making payroll, making all of our bank payments, nothing was amiss then all of a sudden to find out you have been robbed,” said Bear. “We were just shocked.”

Gallegos was also ordered to pay back the $5.8 million in restitution.

Earlier this summer, Whitecap filed a lawsuit against its bank and accounting firm alleging the two institutions should have prevented the fraud.

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