Former Nebraska state Sen. Brenda Council pleaded guilty Thursday in federal court to felony wire fraud and will be sentenced on December 5th.
The plea agreement contains a provision wherein the parties agree that the appropriate sentence is a term 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.
While serving as senator, Council used approximately $63,000 in campaign funds to gamble at casinos in Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma between January 2010 and July 2012. Using an ATM card drawing off her election campaign account, she would withdraw funds from her bank account in Nebraska. Withdrawals would be made from ATM machines in or near the casinos.
Council had solicited campaign contributions from individuals and businesses for her election and re-election to the Nebraska Legislature.
Council plead guilty to two state misdemeanor counts related to false campaign finance reports last year and was fined $500. State prosecutors said the reports concealed her misuse of campaign donations at a Kansas casino.
State Sen. Ernie Chambers, who beat Council to regain the legislative seat he previously held for 38 years, filed a complaint last fall that prompted the U.S. Attorney's investigation. Chambers said in his complaint that Council violated federal laws by improperly transferring money across state lines.