GREAT FALLS, Mont. (AP) - Federal prosecutors say a Chippewa Cree tribal leader and a former Montana legislator used a shell company to divert hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal stimulus aid into their own pockets. The indictment unsealed Tuesday says cash ended up in the accounts of intermediaries and in a rodeo account controlled by tribal council member John Chance Houle.
Prosecutors say some of the money was used to start a Billings pipe supply company owned by one of the men, former Rep. Tony Belcourt, and to buy a house in his wife's name. Belcourt is CEO of the Chippewa Cree Construction Corp. The tribal company heads a federally funded $361 million water pipeline project. Belcourt, his wife, Houle and three others were arraigned Tuesday on theft, fraud and money laundering charges.