Two Hays women pleaded not guilty in federal District Court in Great Falls this week to charges they embezzled federal money allocated to a Montana Indian tribe.
It was the first set of indictments from the Guardians Project on the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation.
Jennifer Ann Doney, 47, and Dawn Cecelia Jones, 33, are charged with theft from an Indian tribal government receiving federal grants and theft from an Indian tribal organization.
The two were released on special conditions.
The indictment charges that Doney and Jones, while both were employees of Fort Belknap Indian Community’s Employment and Training Office, stole unclaimed or unauthorized welfare assistance checks and forged and cashed them, taking the proceeds for their own use.
The indictment does not detail the amounts the two are alleged to have embezzled, but states the value was $5,000 or more.
The arraignment, along with that of Sandra Marie Sanderville of Browning, who is accused of embezzling from the tribal government of the Blackfeet Indian Reservation, are the latest to come from investigations of The Guardians Project.
The initiative, spearheaded by the Montana U.S. Attorney’s Office, coordinates investigations between government agencies into allegations of fraud and embezzlement on Montana Indian reservations. It has led to close to 20 indictments, including several indictments on charges of fraud and embezzlement at Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation.