After a hearing in federal court in Great Falls Monday in the case alleging embezzlement by former Rocky Boy clinic director Fawn Tadios, U.S. District Judge Brian Morris said an order on the motions would be forthcoming. He set Tadios’ trial date for May 1.
Tadios is accused of embezzling federal money while working as the CEO of the Chippewa Cree Tribe’s Health Board, including using money appropriated for the clinic at Rocky Boy to visit her husband in federal prison camp while he was serving a sentence for embezzling from the tribe.
Raymond “Jake” Parker pleaded guilty in 2011 to using a tribal credit card for his own personal expenses while chair of the Chippewa Cree Tribe’s Business Committee.
Tadios complains in briefs she filed that she is being forced to represent herself against her will.
“I believe the court placed me at prejudice in this case … ,” she wrote in a brief filed April 10. “I chose to represent myself not because I feel that I am qualified and would be a better representative than a court appointed attorney, but because I have had three attorneys appointed to this case that have been negligent and the only way for me to protect myself is to hold them accountable. … Therefore, I reserve all rights and enter this response for the record under duress.”
A court document lists four terminated attorneys.
Morris ruled in favor of the prosecution March 17 that unless Tadios, who fired her four court-appointed attorneys, agreed to not file complaints or try to disqualify her court-appointed attorneys, it would not appoint a new attorney.
The hearing Monday included arguments on a motion by Tadios requesting details of the charges against her.
In the motion, Tadios writes that she is a member of Indian tribes — “expressly not a citizen of the United States” — and that she does not know the “particulars” of the case against her, including “the jurisdiction of the United States to tread upon the sovereignty of the Chippewa-Cree (sic) Tribes in their investigation and arrest of the defendant on Rocky Boy’s Reservation (sic).”
Tadios writes that the indictment “is vague, indefinite, uncertain, and insufficient in its terms and conclusions.”
In its response, the prosecution — which also requested the court to review Tadios’ eligibility for court-appointed attorneys — said that argument that she does not have enough details is “ludicrous.”
The brief quotes the indictment, alleging that she embezzled, stole and obtained by fraud travel advancements and reimbursements. The advabcenebts came between Dec. 15, 2011 and Sept. 17, 2012, for official travel when she was using the money entirely or primarily for the purpose of visiting her husband in federal prison camp at Yankton, S.D.
“What about this accusation is unclear?” the brief asks.
“There is a difference between a defendant who cannot understand the charges and a defendant who refuses to acknowledge them,” the prosecution brief says in its conclusion. “Tadios is clearly a member of the second class of defendant.”
In her response, Tadios writes that she received the money with the permission of tribal council member John “Chance” Houle and she is not aware that she violated any laws of the Chippewa Cree Tribe, saying that “is the body of law that I am obligated to while conducting business on the reservation.”
In its motion to review eligibility for court-appointed counsel, the prosecution notes that Tadios affidavit of eligibility “was taken at face value and never seriously scrutinized.”
“The United States has every reason to believe that Tadios is capable of engaging counsel of her own choice,” the brief says.
Tadios owns two homes, one in Rocky Boy and one in Aberdeen, Wash ., where her mother lives, the brief says, and she worked as director of the health board for several years at an annual salary of $115,000, it notes.
She told law enforcement she made payments on the Aberdeen home and on a vehicle used by her daughter as well as other payments, the brief says.
“This does not appear to be a state of financial affairs that would meet any meaningful standard for indigence,” the brief says.
In her reply brief, she says her Rocky Boy home does not have a market value as it was transferred to the reservation from “Maelstrom” (sic) Air Base in Great Falls and is owned by the federal government, and she and her husband were told they are in a “rent to own” home but do not own it.
After she lost her job with the Health Board, Tadios writes, she could not pay for the Aberdeen home and her mother is making payments, and it has fallen into disrepair.
She wrote that two vehicles are registered in her name but has no use of them, a 2008 Jeep Liberty she bought for her daughter in 2010 and a 2010 Chevrolet Camaro she bought for her son in 2011.