Huston asks judge to dismiss charges
April 17, 2014
A flurry of legal documents have been flying into federal court — including requests that the judge dismiss charges — in yet another case alleging fraud, bribery and embezzlement at Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation.
Shad Huston’s attorney, Michael Sherwood of Missoula, filed a motion Tuesday, which U.S. District Judge Brian Morris granted Wednesday, to continue a hearing on pretrial motions filed for Huston.
Wednesday’s filing was the 103rd document filed for Huston in the case, with 15 filed Monday and 77 filed between April 1 and Tuesday, including motions, supporting briefs and affidavits.
Morris set a hearing on the pretrial motions for May 16.
Huston, a Havre businessman and former chair of the Havre school board, is accused of conspiring with Tony and Hailey Belcourt to embezzle federal money and insurance proceeds paid to the Chippewa Cree Tribe at Rocky Boy intended to replace the multi-million dollar tribal clinic destroyed in 2010’s flood.
In a complex interrelated plea agreement covering multiple defendants and multiple cases, Tony Belcourt pleaded guilty to accepting bribes from Huston to award contracts to his companies and to charges in other cases. The prosecution has agreed to dismiss other charges against Belcourt in the case also involving Huston and in other cases.
Hailey Belcourt pleaded guilty to charges in some cases, with the agreement that the charges against her in the case involving Huston be dismissed.
Many of Huston’s motions are “in Limine,” generally defined as motions made to exclude evidence or testimony from a trial. Others include motions to dismiss charges due to the prosecution failing to present evidence to the grand jury or failing to provide factual details or because the court lacks jurisdiction.
Some of Huston’s motions include requiring the prosecution to not refer to Huston’s criminal history. The motion made no mention of what that history might be or if Huston had a criminal record.
He also asks that prosecutors be barred from stating the fact that possible defense witness John “Chance” Houle, a member of the Chippewa Cree Tribe’s Business Committee, pleaded guilty in 1991 to “federal felony charges stemming from distribution of cocaine and theft of livestock.”
He also asks the court to dismiss some charges because the court lacks jurisdiction, arguing that the Chippewa Cree Construction Corp., for which Tony Belcourt, CEO and chief contracting officer for the tribally owned business, awarded contracts to Huston, is not a tribal organization or government agency, or because the government failed to adequately present facts about the crime to the grand jury or to Huston.
The prosecution responded Tuesday to 17 of Huston’s motions, saying on many that the government is aware of its obligations and that no evidence or testimony has yet been presented.
“The motion is both unnecessary and premature,” the response says of several motions. “Any objection can be raised at trial.”
It says some of the other motions are moot and should be denied.
On a motion to dismiss wire fraud charges in which the motion says the prosecution failed to persuade the grand jury to make factual findings and provides too little notice to the defendants of the charges, the response says the motion to dismiss “is not well taken and should be denied.”
It also says the charge in the indictment provides all information needed for Huston to know with what he is being charged.
“A scheme to extract public funds for private gain is a corrupt scheme which robs the employer — in this case the Tribe — of public moneys that could otherwise be spent on the public good,” the response says. “It is not a complicated notion.”