Brenda Council waived indictment and pled guilty to felony wire fraud, U.S. Attorney Deborah R. Gilg announced Thursday.The information charged that Council, while a Nebraska state senator, withdrew campaign funds and used those funds to place wagers at casinos in Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma.
Council misappropriated nearly $63,000 from campaign funds between January 2010 and July 2012.
Council solicited campaign contributions from individuals and businesses to facilitate election to the Unicameral, where she held the seat that is now held by Sen. Ernie Chambers. Council was a state senator from 2009-13.
Periodic campaign statements, with lists of contributions and expenses, were filed with the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission, Gilg said. The statements were false in that they failed to account for the electronic transfer of funds at various casinos for the purpose of wagering.
During 2010 and 2011, Council placed wagers at casinos in Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. Gilg said she used an ATM card that drew money from her election campaign account in Nebraska. Withdrawals would be made from ATM machines in or near the casinos, and the money was used to wager at the casinos.
Council entered into a plea agreement that the appropriate sentence is a term of probation.
Should the court accept the plea agreement, the court must impose a sentence of probation. The court retains the discretion to set the length and terms of probation and impose a fine within the statutory limits. The court may also order restitution.
Gilg said Council violated the public trust through her misuse of campaign contributions, and said the felony charge is an appropriate disposition that highlights the serious nature of her actions.
She expressed appreciation to the Federal Bureau of Investigation for their investigation.
The plea was entered before the Honorable Lyle E. Strom, Senior United States District Court Judge, in Omaha. Council's sentencing is set for Dec. 5.
Council, an attorney, formerly served on the Omaha School Board and the Omaha City Council.