A former Ho-Chunk tribal legislator has been sentenced to five years in prison for taking part in a multi-million-dollar bribery scheme.
Federal Judge William Conley of Madison sentenced 53-year-old Clarence Pettibone of Black River Falls yesterday, calling him a “corrupt official” who took numerous bribes. Pettibone pleaded guilty in April to taking a car and other items, in exchange for his vote in 2006 to award a contract for a tribal housing study. The Trinity Financial Group of Kentucky got the contract for a quarter-million dollars. Prosecutors said it was part of a scheme in which lobbyist Tim Whiteagle got three-million-dollars from companies wanting to do business with the Ho-Chunk tribe. Pettibone chaired the tribe’s Finance Committee. And Whiteagle and others allegedly gave him cash and numerous gifts for his votes on tribal contracts from 2002-through-’09. Authorities said Whiteagle’s girl-friend, Deborah Atherton of Black River Falls, also received money from the deals. Whiteagle and Atherton both await trials on federal charges.