Eastlick pleads guilty to helping embezzle federal aid
April 21, 2014
HELENA (AP) — A man has pleaded guilty to helping a former state legislator embezzle federal money meant for the Chippewa Cree tribe.
James Howard Eastlick appeared in U.S. District Court in Great Falls on Monday to plead guilty to aiding and abetting theft from an Indian tribal government receiving federal funding.
The charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. U.S. District Judge Brian Morris set sentencing for Aug. 15.
Prosecutors say Eastlick, his daughter and her husband kicked back hundreds of thousands of dollars to Chippewa Cree Construction Corp. CEO Tony Belcourt.
Belcourt, a former lawmaker, awarded Eastlick's family contracts for a Rocky Boy's reservation water pipeline project.
Belcourt has pleaded guilty to theft, bribery and tax evasion. Four other defendants have pleaded not guilty.