5 accused of diverting stimulus money for tribe

Published on NewsOK Modified: May 7, 2013 at 1:52 pm •  Published: May 7, 2013
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A little more than a week later, Leischner's father transferred $101,000 from the consulting firm's account to the MT Waterworks, according to the indictment.

Prosecutors say the consulting firm was simply a shell company used to embezzle stimulus money from the Chippewa Cree Construction Corp.'s account.

That March and April, Belcourt conducted a series of complex financial transactions involving the consulting firm and legitimate companies in Colorado and Missouri to pay for the shipment of water pipe from Denver to Montana, prosecutors said.

The result was that the transportation costs were overbilled by $311,000, money that ended up in Leichsner's consulting company's account, according to prosecutors.

In May 2010, Eastlick transferred $200,000 from the consulting firm's account to the Chippewa Cree Rodeo Association bank account. The next month, Houle issued two checks totaling $133,000 to M. Leischner, which were deposited into Mark and Tammy Leischner's personal bank account, the indictment says.

Using the money in that personal account, Tammy Leischner bought a cashier's check in the amount of $62,062 in July. The check was used to complete the purchase of a home on the Rocky Boy's reservation with the title in the name of Hailey Belcourt, according to the indictment.

The federal Bureau of Reclamation in March temporarily halted funding for the pipeline after learning that federal money was missing from the tribal construction company's bank account.

Former tribal chairman Ken Blatt St. Marks, who was ousted by Houle and the other council members earlier this year, has said he reported federal funds for the water pipeline project was missing and that he and the council replaced the money from other revenue.

The former chairman once tried to fire Belcourt as head of the construction company, but the other council members later rehired Belcourt while St. Marks was out of town, St. Marks said.

Tribal attorney Dan Belcourt, Tony Belcourt's cousin, has said the tribe is "actively working with BOR on the issues."