Former Chippewa Cree Tribe chair pleads guilty in corruption case

John "Chance" Houle

John “Chance” Houle, a former chairman of the Chippewa Cree Tribe of Montana, pleaded guilty to bribery, embezzlement, obstruction of justice, and tax evasion charges on Monday.

Houle, 50, admitted he accepted bribes and kickbacks from companies and vendors that did business with the tribe. The Associated Press put the figure at $412,563 -- money that went unreported on his federal income tax forms.

Houle is due to be sentenced on March 19, 2015. He has agreed to pay $121,000 in restitution and his attorney will try to limit any prison time.

“Chance is an individual who did a lot for his community,” attorney Jason Holden told the AP. “We hope to show the judge that regardless of these criminal convictions for which he is fully accepting responsibility, he should be sentenced appropriately.”

As part of the Guardians Project, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Montana has indicted at least a dozen tribal leaders, employees and associates in connection with a large corruption investigation on the reservation.

Get the Story:
Rocky Boy embezzler pleads guilty (The Havre Daily News 12/9)
More plea deals struck in tribal corruption case (AP 12/8)
Houle pleads guilty to bribery, embezzlement, obstruction of justice, and tax evasion (KRTV 12/8)

Join the Conversation

Related Stories:
Ousted leader of Chippewa Cree Tribe denies theft accusations (12/3)
Leaders of Chippewa Cree Tribe try to remove chairman again (12/2)
Chippewa Cree Tribe swears in chairman more than a year later (11/24)
Former chairman of Chippewa Cree Tribe enters guilty plea (11/13)
Republican lawmaker for reservations has felony conviction (11/10)
Former chairman of Chippewa Cree Tribe faces more charges (10/31)
Former health executive from Chippewa Cree Tribe sentenced (10/23)
Former chairman of Chippewa Cree Tribe to enter guilty plea (09/25)
Guardians Project brings more tribal corruption cases in Montana (9/24)
Another guilty plea comes in Chippewa Cree Tribe corruption case (08/19)
Chippewa Cree man sentenced to 7 1/2 years in corruption case (8/15)
Chippewa Cree Tribe takes Original Americans Foundation money (08/01)
Former employee sentenced for theft from Chippewa Cree Tribe (7/29)
Tribal corruption cases put Montana on top of prosecution list (7/14)
Ex-employee found guilty of stealing from Chippewa Cree Tribe (06/27)
Another person pleads guilty for Chippewa Cree Tribe scandal (5/13)
Former lawmaker pleads guilty in Chippewa Cree corruption case (04/03)
More criminal cases filed in thefts from Chippewa Cree Tribe (10/30)
Chairman of Chippewa Cree Tribe blocked from taking office (10/08)
Group forms to battle corruption on reservations in Montana (10/4)
New indictment in theft case involving Chippewa Cree Tribe (10/2)
Chippewa Cree Tribe delays swearing-in of chair amid challenge (08/08)