Law | Politics

New indictment in theft case involving Chippewa Cree Tribe

The U.S. Attorney in Montana has filed a new indictment against five people accused of stealing from the Chippewa Cree Tribe.

Originally, six people were charged in the case. But federal prosecutors abruptly withdrew all charges against John “Chance” Houle, who was sitting on the tribal council at the time of the indictment.

Prosecutors also dropped some charges against the five remaining defendants. They will now face four charges: conspiracy to embezzle federal grant and contract funds, theft from an Indian tribal government receiving federal funding and two bribery counts, the Associated Press reported.

The tribe received $33 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act as part of a $361 million pipeline project. Authorities say hundreds of thousands of dollars were diverted to Tony Belcourt, the CEO of Chippewa Cree Construction Corp., a tribal company.

"As far as we can tell, they're just cleaning up their case a little bit, and we're confident we can prevail on the merits," Chuck Watson, Tony Belcourt's attorney, told the AP.

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