The state commissioner of insurance and investments has ordered a North Dakota man to pay fines and restitution totalling $168,000 for scamming the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation government.
State Auditor Monica Lindeen said in a press release Wednesday that she ordered Dennis Lyon, AKA Robert Joe Hansen, AKA Chief Joe Blue Eyes, of New Town, N.D., to repay the Gros Ventre and Assiniboine tribes of Fort Belknap nearly $150,000 they paid in 2010 for surety bonds for a construction project for the tribal college on the reservation, Aaniiih Nakoda College.
Lindeen, who faces Republican Derek Skees of Whitefish in her bid for re-election this year, said she also ordered Lyon to pay $20,000 in fines, which is added to $490,000 he owes the state for previous actions.
Lindeen said legal documents filed by her office allege Lyon sold the bonds while he was not licensed to sell bonds in Montana and that he sold the bonds through an unregistered corporation, Native American Fund Services Management, which he claimed he owned.
Lyon was permanently barred from the insurance industry in Montana by a 2007 cease and desist order. That order, issued when Lyon went by his legal name, Robert Joe Hanson, stemmed from bonds Lyon sold for construction projects in Bozeman, Malta and Ashland the press release from the auditor’s office says.
"No matter how professional or trustworthy an insurance or securities salesperson seems to be, you should check their history with my office," Lindeen said in the release. "We can tell you if the salesperson is licensed and in good standing, preventing scams like this before they start."
People can check to see if agents and brokers are licensed in the state at the auditor’s website at http://www.csi.mt.gov, and search for brokers and agents by name, agency or city. People can call the auditor’s consumer hotline for more information at 800) 332-6148.