A former Chippewa Cree Tribe health center employee will spend three years in custody, including more than a year in federal prison, and was ordered Thursday to pay back $19,735.77 he stole from the tribe.
A federal jury convicted Wilford Harlan “Huck” Sunchild after a two-day trial in April on three counts of embezzlement.
Federal District Judge Brian Morris sentenced Sunchild in federal court in Great Falls to 12 months and one day in prison followed by two years supervised release on each count, with the three sentences to run at the same time. He also ordered Sunchild to pay a $100 special assessment on each count as well as the restitution.
The jury convicted Sunchild of diverting funds between Feb. 2, 2012, and March 23, 2013, into an account while he was director of the Wellness Center of the Chippewa Cree Tribe’s clinic and accessed them for his own use.
Sunchild set up an account at Native American Bank with his name to deposit Nike grant funds awarded to provide shoes and other apparel at reduced cost to promote youth athletics and improve health. He was provided a debit card he could use to access the account.
In February 2012, he deposited a $18,772.16 check issued to the Wellness Center into the account and accessed the money through automatic teller machine withdrawals, many in local casinos in and around Havre and on the reservation.
The prosecutors said that though the account was opened in January 2012 and almost $30,000 had been deposited by March 2103, the account was overdrawn.