The federal government is seeking to recover more than $944,000 from the former chairman of the Blackfeet Nation of Montana.
Federal prosecutors say Patrick Thomas falsely claimed a share of the Keepseagle settlement
over discrimination at the Department
. He was given a $50,000 cash award and won forgiveness for nearly $202,000 in loans, plus nearly $63,000 in tax liabilities.
The government was cheated out of $314,000 as a result, according to prosecutors. Under the False Claims Act
, Thomas can be on the hook for three times that amount, or more than $944,000.
"The Keepseagle settlement fund was established by the Department of Agriculture to remedy a bona fide complaint that Native American producers had been treated unfairly in agricultural lending practices," U.S. Attorney Mike Cotter said in a press release
. "Like all fraud, waste, and abuse in government programs, a fraudulent claim to a share of that fund diminishes the opportunity for the truly aggrieved to be properly compensated. And it undermines the integrity of the judicial system. This office is committed to holding false actors accountable and maintaining the confidence of the public in our ability to stem the tide of litigation fraud."
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Prosecutors seek $944,000 from former Blackfeet chair
False Claims Act complaint filed against former Blackfeet Tribal chairman Thomas
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