Huston to plead guilty in Rocky Boy scam
June 2, 2014
The last of eight defendants facing trial in inter-related charges of fraud and embezzlement tied to Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation is scheduled to change his plea.
Havre businessman and former school board chair Shad James Huston requested Friday the judge set a hearing to change his plea.
U.S. District Judge Brian Morris set a change of plea hearing for Huston on Aug. 14, the same day his co-defendant Tony Belcourt is scheduled for sentencing in that and other cases.
In the motion to change his plea to a count of theft from an Indian tribal organization, Huston’s attorney writes that the government is filing additional indictments which will include two other charges to which he will plead guilty.
Huston was charged with offering bribes and embezzling federal and insurance funds the Chippewa Cree Tribe received to built a clinic to replace the multi-million dollar facility destroyed in the 2010 flood.
The motion was the latest in a series of inter-related plea agreements dealing with charges alleging fraud and embezzlement related to federal funding at Rocky Boy.
The charges stem from allegations of fraud or embezzlement, including tax and bank fraud, in the misuse of funds intended for the construction of a regional water system or repair of flood damage. The tribally owned Chippewa Cree Construction Corp. was the lead contractor in all of those projects.
Belcourt, who was a former Chippewa Cree Business Committee member and was a state representative and CEO and chief contracting officer of Chippewa Cree Construction, was charged or connected to the series of indictments in 2013 and this year. His wife, Hailey Belcourt, also pleaded guilty to charges filed against her.
Havre psychologist James Howard Eastlick Jr., a business partner of Tony Belcourt, Huston and Hunter Burns, also pleaded guilty to charges in the indictments, as did Burns.
Eastlick's father, sister and brother-in-law, James Howard Eastlick Sr., Tammy Leischner and Mark Leischner, also were indicted.
Eastlick Sr. and Tammy Leischner also have pleaded guilty to charges, while charges against Mark Leischner were dropped, as were charges against Business Committee member John “Chance” Houle.
Mark and Tammy Leischner and their son, Brenden James Leischner, have since pleaded not guilty to charges they failed to report income, including money embezzled from Rock Boy, while collecting nearly $100,000 to help pay for Brenden Leischner’s expenses at the University of Great Falls while he studied criminal justice.