Another Guardians Project indictment charging embezzlement of federal funds at Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation has been unsealed in federal court.
Wilford Harlan “Huck” Sunchild, 48, pleaded not guilty in federal District Court in Great Falls to three counts of embezzlement: Theft from an Indian tribal government receiving federal grants, theft from an Indian tribal organization and theft from a health care facility.
Montana Chief U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen Wednesday set a Jan. 28 trial on the charges.
Sunchild, who was director of the Chippewa Cree Tribe’s Wellness Center at Rocky Boy at the time he is accused of embezzling the money, was arrested Nov. 25 and released on conditions after he was arraigned Nov. 27, with Judge Keith Strong again releasing him and setting more conditions of that release in a detention hearing Tuesday.
According to the indictment, Sunchild deposited tribal funds into an account over which he had control between Feb. 2, 2012, and March 23, 2012, and then withdrew funds primarily using automatic teller machines. The amounts he is accused of stealing have not been released.
The Guardians Project, an interagency project created by U.S. Attorney Michael Cotter to find and prosecute fraud and embezzlement in Indian Country in Montana, has led to a series of indictments across Montana including at Rocky Boy.
The indictments include charges against a former state legislator, a former Havre school board chair and the CEO of the Rocky Boy Health Board.
The CEO of the Chippewa Cree Construction Corp ., former Rep. Tony Belcourt, also a former tribal council member, and his wife, Hailey Belcourt, face charges of fraud or embezzlement in several cases.
Also charged in those cases are former Havre School Board Chair Shad Huston; James Howard Eastlick Jr. and Hunter Burns, who were partners in Hunter Burns Construction that contracted with Chippewa Cree Construction, and Eastlick’s father, sister and brother-in-law, James Howard Eastlick and Tammy and Mark Leischner, all of Laurel.
Tribal council member John “Chance” Houle, a former chair of the council, was indicted in the first set of Rocky Boy embezzlement charges unsealed this year, but the government later dropped those charges.
Health Board CEO Fawn Tadios, wife of former tribal council chair Raymond “Jake” Parker, is charged with embezzling tribal and Health Board funds, including allegations she embezzled money to go visit her husband in federal prison where he was serving a sentence for embezzling from the tribe while he was chair.
Garcia Duran, a supply technician at the Health Board at Rocky Boy, was indicted on charges that he purchased goods and services for his personal use and billed the Health Board between August 2009 and February 2010.