Havre Daily News - News you can use

By Tim Leeds 

Round one of embezzlement charges closed


June 27, 2014

With the conviction of Fawn Tadios Thursday in federal court in Great Falls, the first round of Rocky Boy embezzlement cases, filed in 2013, is closed, but the next round is underway.

In April of last year, Chippewa Cree Tribe’s Business Committee member John “Chance” Houle, former council member and state Rep. Tony Belcourt, head of the Chippewa Cree Construction Corp., his wife, Hailey Belcourt, and James Howard Eastlick Sr. and his daughter and ex-son-in-law, Tammy and Mark Leischner, all of Laurel, were indicted on charges of embezzling money intended for a regional water system.

The Belcourts, Eastlick and Tammy Leischner all have pleaded guilty in that or other cases. Charges were dismissed against Houle and Mark Leischner. The Belcourts are scheduled to be sentenced Aug. 14 and Eastlick Aug. 15.

Tadios was the next indicted on Rocky Boy-related charges, on June 5, 2013. Her sentencing is set for Oct. 9.

Garcia Duran was indicted Sept. 20, 2013, on charges he embezzled while an employee at the Rocky Boy health cares system. He pleaded guilty Dec. 10, and was sentenced March 11 to three years of probation and ordered to pay more than $7,600 in restitution.

James Howard Eastlick Jr., a Havre psychologist and son of the Laurel Eastlick, and his construction business partner, Hunter Burns, and the Belcourts also were indicted Sept. 20. Eastlick, Burns and Tony Belcourt were indicted on additional charges Oct. 18.

Additional charges of bribery and tax fraud were filed against Eastlick Jr. April 18.

Burns pleaded guilty April 2 and is scheduled to be sentenced July 10. Eastlick Jr., also a business partner of Tony Belcourt, pleaded guilty May 1 and is scheduled to be sentenced Aug. 15.

The Belcourts, Eastlick Jr. and Havre businessman and former Havre school board chair Shad Huston, listed as a business partner of Eastlick Jr., were indicted Oct. 18, on charges they bribed and embezzled in relation to the rebuilding of the flood-destroyed Rocky Boy clinic. Huston is scheduled to change his plea Aug. 14.

Wilford Harlan “Huck” Sunchild was indicted Nov. 11 on charges he embezzled while director of the tribe’s wellness center. A jury convicted Sunchild on all counts April 8 after a two-day trial. Sentencing is scheduled for July 25.

This year, new charges alleging financial aid fraud including not reporting the embezzlement income were filed April 18 against Mark and Tammy Leischner and their son, Brenden Leischner. Mark and Tammy Leischner also face trial in a bankruptcy fraud trial that also includes their involvement with Rocky Boy, which is set to go to trial Aug. 25.

The most recent indictments include three new cases against Houle and a case against former tribal council Chair Bruce Harold Sunchild, all filed June. 19. Some of the indictments in those cases still are sealed because a co-defendant or co-defendants in those cases have not yet appeared in court and defendants’ names and indictments cannot be released until that happens.

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Reader Comments

handsfree writes:

wonder if the good people of rocky boy will continue to sit on their hands while those in the 'second round' continue to get our tribe deeper and deeper in debt? they let this go on for twenty years and actually cheerleaded for these guys. you can find a whole bunch of 'apologists' telling people how the tribe should take a thousand dollars from each of us while leaving us all 300 'for the good of the people'. wonder what happened to that money? those people shouldn't vote. its on facebook

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