Brenda Council of Omaha was sentenced Thursday to a 3-year term of probation and fined $500 for using campaign funds to place bets at casinos in Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma.
Council was convicted of wire fraud, a federal offense. Senior U.S. District Judge Lyle E. Strom handed down the sentence.
While Council, 60, was a Nebraska state senator, she used campaign funds to place wagers at casinos in Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma, U.S. Attorney Deb Gilg said.
At the time, Council represented the legislative district now represented by Ernie Chambers. In all, she misappropriated about $63,000 of campaign funds, using the money for gambling between January 2010 and July 2012, Gilg said.
Council served in the Legislature from 2009-13. She is a former Omaha school board member and she also served on the Omaha city council.
Periodic campaign statements that account for contributions and expenses were filed with the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission, but many of the filings Council submitted were false, failing to account for the conversion of campaign funds to finance her gambling, Gilg said.
Withdrawals from Council's election campaign account were frequently made with an ATM machine inside casinos in Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma, Gilg said.
Council, who was an attorney, has since repaid the money, Gilg said.
The felony conviction means she loses a license to practice law, and she forfeits the right to hold elected office and even to vote.
Gilg said the conviction addresses "the breach of trust the public places in its elected officials. This conviction serves as a notice to other public officials that there are severe consequences for violating the public trust."