Clarice Ann Hall Pleads Guilty in U.S. Federal Cour
Bill Mercer, United States Attorney for the District of Montana, announced today that during a federal court session in Great Falls on May 4, 2009, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Keith Strong, CLARICE ANN HALL, a 52-year-old resident of Browning, pled guilty to theft from an Indian tribal organization. Sentencing is set for August 27, 2009. She is currently released on special conditions.
In an Offer of Proof filed by the United States, the government stated it would have proved at trial the following:
Between January 7, 2008, and May 5, 2008, forty-six fraudulent checks totaling $62,270 were written off the accounts of the Blackfeet Tribal Credit Department, an agency of the Blackfeet Tribe tasked with providing short-term loans - to a maximum of $1,500 - to qualifying tribal members.
HALL was an Administrative Assistant at the Blackfeet Tribal Credit Department.
The scheme began when tribal members were approached and, in exchange for a promise of a portion of the fraudulent loan proceeds, would complete a short-term loan application. These "nominee borrowers" were tribal members who would agree to have their names used to complete loan applications and to transact a tribal check representing the proceeds of the loan in exchange for a share of the proceeds. Nominees would be assured that they would not be called upon to repay the debt to the tribe. The applications would be processed by the Credit office even though those involved knew that there was no bonafide need on behalf of the borrower for a loan and no intention to have the loan repaid. The processed loan would then be forwarded to the Blackfeet Tribal Treasurer who, believing that the applications were legitimate loan requests from qualified borrowers, would sign a tribal check for the amount of the loan.
Between January 25, 2008, and continuing until April 24, 2008, HALL, either alone or with another, approached one or more tribal members and had them endorse and negotiate one or more tribal checks knowing that the checks did not represent a bonafide loan from the program, that there would be no verification of the loan, and that the loan would not be repaid. HALL then shared in the proceeds of the negotiated check or checks.
HALL faces possible penalties of 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and 3 years supervised release.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Carl E. Rostad prosecuted the case for the United States.
The investigation was a cooperative effort between the Inspector General's Office for the U.S. Department of the Interior and the Blackfeet Tribe Criminal Investigation Division.
A copy of the Offer of Proof can be obtained by contacting Sally Frank at (406) 247-4638.