News and Press Releases

Harry Paul Three Stars Sentenced in U.S. District Cour

Monday, March 09, 2009

Bill Mercer, United States Attorney for the District of Montana, announced today that during a federal court session in Great Falls, on March 9, 2009, before U.S. District Judge Sam E. Haddon, HARRY PAUL THREE STARS, a 46-year-old resident of Poplar, appeared for sentencing. THREE STARS was sentenced to a term of:

Prison: 4 months

Community Confinement: 4 months following his release from prison

  • Special Assessment: $100
  • Restitution: $27,500
  • Supervised Release: 3 years

THREE STARS was sentenced in connection with his guilty plea to theft from an Indian gaming establishment by an employee.

In an Offer of Proof filed by the United States, the government stated it would have proved at trial the following:

In mid-2005, the comptroller for the Fort Peck Tribes provided documents to the FBI regarding the theft of funds from the Tribal Express, a Fort Peck Tribes owned business. The Fort Peck Tribes provides cash to the Tribal Express for use in making gaming payouts. The Tribal Express is required to replenish the funds used for gaming payouts to the gaming bank at the end of the day from the proceeds taken from all of the gaming machines. By contract, the remaining proceeds are split - sixty percent (60%) to the Fort Peck Tribes, and forty percent (40%) to the Tribal Express Store.

The comptroller had conducted a physical count of the $25,000 gaming bank in the Tribal Express Store on April 8, 2005, and determined there was $825.95 missing. The comptroller then reviewed bank statements for the Fort Peck Tribes and the Tribal Express Store and concluded that $52,077.10 in cash (the forty percent earmarked for the Tribal Express), was not deposited to the benefit of the Tribal Express Store between January 7, 2005, and April 6, 2005. The Tribal Express Manager, THREE STARS, was the only person authorized to make the gaming deposits between January 7, 2005, and April 6, 2005. THREE STARS had worked for the Tribal Express as its manager since February 26, 2004.

When THREE STARS was hired as the manager of Tribal Express, a bookkeeper for Fort Peck, Inc., had assisted THREE STARS by explaining to him how to make up the deposits, count the tills, and reconcile to the gaming bank. After a few days, THREE STARS took over all responsibilities for these transactions including bank deposits.

The bookkeeper became suspicious that money was missing from Tribal Express when the accounts payable for Tribal Express kept increasing and there was no money in the Tribal Express' bank account to pay the vendors. Tribal Express got about $500,000 behind in payments to their vendors. THREE STARS explained reported cash shortages by saying that he was holding back gaming cash and revenue because it was needed to keep the gaming cash bank up for the weekend. THREE STARS told the bookkeeper that there were five deposits for gaming made in March 2005, and that there should have been ten or eleven. THREE STARS said that in February 2005, there were only three or four deposits for gaming made and there should have been eight or ten deposits.

THREE STARS explained that some of the money from the gaming bank was missing because one of his employees at Tribal Express put approximately $7,555 in bad checks in the gaming bank. THREE STARS said that the employee cashed the checks through Tribal Express and the gaming cash during the time that he was the manager. THREE STARS stated that he did not cash the checks because he knew that the employee did not have the money in her bank account. THREE STARS said that on occasion, the employee would take out some of the bad checks and replace them with cash.

THREE STARS was interviewed and admitted that on April 7, 2005, when he was suspended from his position as manager of the Tribal Express, he was upset. Before leaving the store, THREE STARS said he stole $2,500 from the cash box in a filing cabinet. THREE STARS said he spent the money on drugs. THREE STARS also admitted that an additional approximately $25,000 was stolen from the Tribal Express between November 2004 and April 2005 to purchase drugs.

Review of records provided by the comptroller to the FBI for the time period of November 5, 2004, through April 6, 2005, show that funds from gaming activity totaling $52,280.10 were not deposited into the Tribal Express' bank account. The dates in numbers in the chart are directly supported by bank statements and gaming drop sheets provided by the comptroller.

Because there is no parole in the federal system, the "truth in sentencing" guidelines mandate that THREE STARS will likely serve all of the time imposed by the court. In the federal system, THREE STARS does have the opportunity to earn a sentence reduction for "good behavior." However, this reduction will not exceed 15% of the overall sentence.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Carl E. Rostad prosecuted the case for the United States.

The investigation was a cooperative effort between the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Fort Peck Tribes Criminal Investigation Division.



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