By Patrick Winderl/Havre Daily Newsemail@example.com
A former partner in a grant-writing company has been accused of forging thousands of dollars in checks from the company's account for personal use.
Neal Rosette Sr. of Box Elder was charged in state District Court last week with forgery by common scheme, a felony. According to the charging document, Rosette cashed nearly 30 checks from the Bear Paw Credit Union account of Brotherz and Sisterz Inc. by forging the signature of account manager Daryl Wright. The cashed checks totaled $5,370, according to the charging document.
Brotherz and Sisterz Inc., a private company that provided grant-writing services to tribal enterprises, was founded last year by Rosette and Wright.
Both men also worked for the National Tribal Development Association, which helps American Indians apply for federal agricultural loans. Wright is no longer employed by NTDA. Rosette is the projects administrator for the association.
The NTDA works closely with the Farm Service Agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The FSA was unaware that Rosette had been charged with forgery, Havre FSA administrator Craig Carlson said today. Carlson referred additional inquiries to state FSA loan chief Roger Meredith. Meredith could not be reached for comment.
Rosette and Wright formed Brotherz and Sisterz Inc. last year to supplement their income from the NTDA, Wright said today. Wright has petitioned the Chippewa Cree Tribal Court to dissolve the company, he added.
"We're just waiting for a court date," he said. "I don't want to be associated with anything Neal did."
Wright told the Hill County Sheriff's Office in September that Rosette had been cashing company checks without authority, according to the charging document. Only Wright's name was on the company's checking account at Bear Paw Credit Union, the document said.
Rosette wrote himself company checks and forged Wright's signature, the document said. The checks ranged from $100 to $900 in value, according to the document.
Most of the forged checks were cashed at Jitterbugs Restaurant in Box Elder, the document said. Several others were cashed at Havre businesses.
Wright said he discovered the forgery after returning from a month-long trip.
The checking account had been closed because it had been overdrawn, Wright said.
"I found out that the account had been closed when we tried to deposit a check into the account," Wright said. "It could only be put into our savings account because they had canceled our checking account."
Wright then requested a list of the most recent company transactions and saw the checks that Rosette had written, he said.
During the investigation, deputies found 29 forged checks, according to the charging document. Hill County Sheriff Greg Szudera said today that the number could increase.
"The investigation is still open," Szudera said. "It appears there is the possibility of other checks being out there at this time."