6th person pleads in Rocky Boy scandal
Leischner pleads, charges dismissed against husband
May 9, 2014
A sixth defendant accused of conspiracy to embezzle funds at Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation has pleaded guilty.
The government has dismissed charges against her husband — saying it will pursue other more serious charges against him — and the judge has denied motions to dismiss charges and documents against the last defendant, with his trial set for June 9.
Tammy Leischner of Laurel pleaded guilty Thursday in federal court in Great Falls to aiding and abetting embezzlement from an Indian tribal government receiving federal funds. Other charges against her are to be dismissed.
In a complex and interrelated plea agreement covering eight federal cases, her father, James Howard Eastlick Sr., brother, James Howard Eastlick Jr., and former state and Chippewa Cree Tribal official Tony Belcourt and his wife, Hailey Belcourt, as well as Eastlick Jr.’s business partner, Hunter Burns of Box Elder, previously pleaded guilty.
The government dismissed charges against her co-defendant and husband, Mark Leischner.
In its motion to dismiss, the government said Mark Leischner’s role in the alleged conspiracy was minor, and it would focus on his prosecution in two other federal cases against him as well as investigations into allegations of his role in other federal crimes.
Havre businessman and former Havre school board chair Shad Huston, the last defendant involved in the eight cases also involving Eastlick Jr. and Tony Belcourt, is scheduled to go on trial June 9.
Last week, U.S. District Judge Brian Morris, who is presiding over all eight cases, denied several motions made by Huston to dismiss charges or dismiss documents filed in the case against him.
The six defendants have pleaded guilty to charges stemming from accusations of conspiring to embezzle and defraud the government of money allocated to build a new regional water pipeline and to replace the flood-destroyed clinic at Rocky Boy, as well as tax and bank fraud.
Tony Belcourt was CEO and chief contracting officer of Chippewa Cree Construction Corp., the tribally owned company created to build the water system and the chief contractor in both the water project and in flood-repair projects at Rocky Boy.
Leischner’s plea agreement says the government will be asking she pay the Chippewa Cree Tribe $311,000 in restitution as part of her sentence, which includes a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
According to the offer of proof submitted to show some of what the government was prepared to prove if the case went to trial, Leischner and her father created a consulting company to which Tony Belcourt awarded a pipe shipping contract which already had been awarded to another company.
Belcourt authorized a $165,000 advance on the T. Leischner Consulting contract, the offer of proof says, then Eastlick Sr. wired $101,000 from its account to the account of a pipe company in Billings Belcourt and two partners had created a few weeks earlier, buying a controlling interest for Belcourt.
Eastlick Jr. then provided the consulting company another $45,000 so it could keep the pipe moving, the document says.
By April 26, 2010, $495,000 had been paid to T. Leischner Consulting. From that, in a series of transactions involving the Chippewa Cree Rodeo Association, Tammy Leischner purchased a $62,000 cashier’s check made out to Hill County Title Company which Hailey Belcourt then used to buy a residence in Box Elder the Belcourts used as a rental property, the offer of proof says.