A third defendant in a string of federal cases alleging fraud, embezzlement, bribery, tax fraud, bank fraud and money fraud has pleaded guilty in federal court in Great Falls.
A fourth is scheduled to plead in May and others are asking for more time to file a plea agreement.
Hailey Lee Belcourt, whose husband, Tony Belcourt, admitted guilt Wednesday, pleaded guilty Thursday to one count in each of three cases, in an agreement where other charges in those cases and charges in three other cases would be dismissed.
The cases allege that Hailey and her husband, a former tribal council member, state representative and CEO of the Chippewa Cree Construction Corp ., accepted bribes to award contracts — some of which are alleged to have been overpaid or paid in fraud — and cheated on their taxes and defrauded their bank and laundered money.
James Howard Eastlick, Sr ., who is a codefendant with the Belcourts along with his daughter and son-in-law, Tammy and Mark Leischner, all of Laurel, filed a motion Thursday to extend the deadline for filing a plea agreement. The document says the Leischners join in the motion.
U.S. District Judge Brian Morris, who accepted Hailey Belcourt’s pleas Thursday and the guilty pleas of Tony Belcourt and codefendant Hunter Burns Wednesday, approved the motion and extended the deadline to April 14.
James Howard Eastlick Jr. of Havre, who worked at Rocky Boy as a psychologist and is listed by the federal government as a business partner in interests of Burns, Tony Belcourt and codefendant Shad Huston, is scheduled to plead guilty May 1.
Huston is still facing trial on charges he took contracts in that business and others related to the building of a new clinic in Rocky Boy and paid bribes back to Tony and Hailey Belcourt, which the government alleges the Belcourts used to cover bank overdrafts.
Huston was incorrectly listed as an owner of K Bar K trucking in a Havre Daily News story Thursday — owners say he was only an employee.
Tony Belcourt pleaded guilty to embezzlement in the case involving Eastlick Sr. and the Leischners, to two counts of accepting bribes and to a count of tax fraud.
Thursday, Hailey Belcourt pleaded guilty to bank fraud, filing a false tax return and aiding and abetting bribery.
The bank fraud and tax cases allege that the Belcourts received payments from Hunter Burns Construction LLC to cover debts at their bank and to pay an auction company that had paid proceeds of a sale of cattle to another party, who has not been charged, to hide the cattle sale from their bank. The cattle were pledged as collateral to the Belcourt's bank.
After the bank found the cattle had been sold, the auction company issued another check to the Belcourts and demanded repayment of the check to the third party, a court document alleges.
The bribery charge alleges she aided and abetted bribery with Tony Belcourt in awarding contracts to Hunter Burns Construction in return for payment of bribes to the Belcourts.