Belcourt, Burns to plead guilty Wednesday
Hailey Belcourt scheduled to plead Thursday
April 1, 2014
The change of plea hearings for two defendants in a string of indictments alleging conspiracies of fraud and embezzlement at Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation are set for Wednesday in Great Falls.
Federal court records show that Chippewa Cree Construction Corp. CEO Tony Belcourt, a former Chippewa Cree Tribe council member and former state representative, is scheduled to plead guilty to charges in federal court in Great Falls at 2 p.m. Wednesday, while his co-defendant Hunter Burns is scheduled to change his plea in an earlier hearing, at 11:30 a.m.
Belcourt’s wife, Hailey Belcourt, is scheduled to change her plea in a hearing in Great Falls 11 a.m. Thursday, while co-defendant James Howard Eastlick Jr. is scheduled to change his plea May 1.
The Belcourts, Eastlick Jr. and Burns are accused of conspiracy to defraud and embezzle and of bribery in Chippewa Cree Construction awarding contracts to Hunter Burns Construction, in which Burns and Eastlick Jr. were partners, for the Rocky Boy’s/North Central Montana Regional Water project and Burns and Eastlick making payments back to Tony and Hailey Belcourt.
Another case against Eastlick Jr., Burns and Tony Belcourt alleges they made fraudulent claims about work done.
In another case, the Belcourts and Eastlick Jr.’s father, sister and brother-in-law, James Howard Eastlick Sr. and Tammy and Mark Leischner, all of Laurel, are accused of conspiring to embezzle money from the water project. Former Havre school board chair Shad Huston and the Belcourts are accused of conspiring to defraud and embezzle money allocated to replace the Rocky Boy clinic destroyed in the 2010 flooding in yet another case.
Eastlick Sr., the Leischners and Huston had not entered any plea agreements as of this morning.