CORTEZ — Six sentences have been handed down in a case of embezzlement from a Native American tribe in Colorado.

The Journal reports that those sentenced to prison Wednesday were among 16 people convicted of stealing $1.5 million from the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe following a three-year U.S. Justice Department investigation.

Court records say that from at least 2011 through October 2015, employees of the tribe's financial services department generated fraudulent checks drawn from individual tribal benefit accounts without the members' knowledge.

Records say employees chose people who received and cashed checks from utility and family plan accounts and then shared the funds with the employees.

Tribal officials say that employees involved in the scam have been fired and those who pleaded guilty have been denied tribal benefits.

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