Henrys indicted on Rocky Boy embezzlement
College president, facilities manager accused of taking bribes, awarding contracts
Last updated 9/23/2014 at 12:07pm
Two more prominent officials and another institution have been dragged into accusations of fraud, corruption and embezzlement at Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation.
Former Stone Child College President Melody Henry, 49, and her husband, Stone Child Facilities Department Manager Frank Gregory Henry, 51, pleaded not guilty Tuesday in the federal Missouri River Courthouse in Great Falls to four counts of conspiracy to embezzle, theft and bribery.
The penalties attached to the charges are five years in prison for the conspiracy charge and for a charge of stealing an electrical generator and 10 years in prison for each charge for accepting bribes and for theft from an Indian Tribal government receiving federal grants.
The federal grand jury indictment accuses the Henrys of accepting payments from Hunter Burns and his company, Hunter Burns Construction, after awarding the company contracts and payments for work at Stone Child College.
The indictment specifies that between Sept. 7, 2010, and Dec. 1, 2012, the couple approved payments of $530,242 to Hunter Burns Construction and “solicited and received, $242,273, more or less, in payments from Hunter Burns Construction.”
The indictment also alleges that between July 31, 2012, and July 30, 2014, the Henrys used tribal funds to buy an electrical generator for the college and then used it for their personal benefit.
Melody Henry announced in May 2013 she was resigning as president of the college, saying in a press release issued by the Chippewa Cree Tribe that she wanted to spend more time with her family.
The indictment is the latest on Rocky Boy in a series of charges leveled through the office of the U.S. Attorney for the District of Montana’s Guardians Project, intended to investigate and prosecute fraud, corruption and embezzlement in Montana’s Indian Country. Numerous indictments have been issued dealing with alleged corruption at Rocky Boy’s, Fort Belknap, Fort Peck and Crow reservations.
Hunter Burns already pleaded guilty and was sentenced in July to two months in prison followed by four years of home detention. Chippewa Cree Construction Corp. CEO Tony Belcourt, who was charged in several cases including the Burns Construction cases, also pleaded guilty and was sentenced in August to 7½ years in prison followed by three years probation, and his wife, Hailey Belcourt, was sentenced to two months in prison followed by three years of probation.
Burns’ former partner, Havre psychologist James Howard Eastlick Jr., also has pleaded guilty to some charges in a string of indictments leveled against him and is scheduled for sentencing Oct. 23.
Eastlick Jr.’s father, James Eastlick Sr. of Laurel, pleaded guilty in a case alleging he and his daughter and former son-in-law, Tammy and Mark Leischner, conspired with the Belcourts to embezzle payments for the building of a regional water system and pay kickbacks to the Belcourts. Eastlick Sr. is scheduled to be sentenced in that case Thursday and Tammy Leischner, who also pleaded guilty, is scheduled for sentencing in that case Oct. 23.
Tammy and Mark Leischner and their son Brenden Leischner are scheduled to change their pleas in other cases Sept. 30. One alleges Mark Leischner and Chippewa Cree tribal council member John “Chance” Houle, president of the Chippewa Cree Rodeo Association, and Wade Colliflower, vice president of the association, conspired to pay Leischner and his wife $268,000 from the account of the Chippewa Cree Rodeo Association. Leischners then paid kickbacks to Eastlick Jr. and the Belcourts, the indictment alleges.
Another alleges Mark and Tammy Leischner filed fraudulent bankruptcy claims including not listing the money from Rocky Boy and another that they and Brenden Leischner failed to report income including from Rocky Boy when applying for federal financial aid.
Several others from on and off the reservation have pleaded guilty to, been convicted of or are facing charges alleging fraud, bribery, embezzlement and corruption at the reservation.