Eastlick Sr. pleads guilty in Rocky Boy embezzlement
April 22, 2014
A fourth defendant accused of fraud and embezzlement at Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation has pleaded guilty.
James Howard Eastlick Sr.’s son is scheduled to change his plea May 1, and his daughter is asking for more time to consider changing her plea until she knows what her brother has to say.
Eastlick Sr. of Laurel pleaded guilty Monday in federal court in Great Falls to a charge of aiding and abetting theft from an Indian tribal government receiving federal funding. Sentencing is set for Aug. 15.
He was accused of conspiring with his daughter and son-in-law, Tammy and Mark Leischner, also of Laurel, and with Tony and Hailey Belcourt of Rocky Boy
to embezzle money allocated to build a regional water pipeline to serve 30,000 Montanans on Rocky Boy and from Loma north to the Canadian border and west to the Rocky Mountain Front.
James Howard Eastlick Jr., a Havre psychologist who worked at Rocky Boy, is scheduled to change his plea in other cases May 1. Eastlick Jr. was not charged in the same case with his father, but would testify about being involved in the scheme, the prosecution’s offer of proof says.
Tammy Leischner filed a request with the court to extend the deadline for her entering a plea agreement until she could find out more about what her brother would say.
Leischner’s trial on the charges is scheduled for May 12.
Tony Belcourt, CEO and contracting officer with Chippewa Cree Construction, the lead contractor in the project, pleaded guilty in a complex, multi-defendant plea agreement and is scheduled to be sentenced Aug. 14. Hailey Belcourt also pleaded guilty in other cases in an agreement which included dismissing charges in this case and also is scheduled to be sentenced Aug. 14.
Documents filed by the prosecution stating what the government was prepared to prove in trial say that Belcourt, while earning about $150,000 a year as CEO of Chippewa Cree Construction, awarded a contract in January 2010 to ship pipe for the water project to a Montana company.
He then awarded a separate $495,000 shipping contract to a company created by Tammy Leischner and Eastlick Sr. a few weeks earlier, a document says.
By February 2010, Belcourt approved a $165,000 payment to T Leischner Consulting, and once the bank cleared the payment, Eastlick Sr. wire transferred $101,000 to MT Waterworks, a pipe supply company in Billlings formed two weeks earlier by Belcourt and “two business partners.”
The money purchased a controlling interest in the company for Belcourt, the document says.
Eastlick Jr. then provided $45,000 to T Leischner Consulting to provide enough funds to keep the pipe moving, the document says.
Both the company actually selling the pipe and T Leischner Consulting billed the project for $495,000 shipping cost, and the construction corporation ended up paying $660,000 in federal stimulus package money for shipping, $311,050 more than the original bid.
The Leischners and Eastlick Sr. also provided Hailey Belcourt a $62,000 cashier’s check made out to Hill County Title which she used to buy a Box Elder residence the Belcourts used as a rental property, bringing the payments to the Belcourts to $163,000, the document says.