Florence A. White Eagle Sentenced in U.S. District Cour
The United States Attorney's Office announced that during a federal court session in Great Falls, on November 7, 2011, before U.S. District Judge Sam E. Haddon, FLORENCE A. WHITE EAGLE, a 63-year-old resident of Poplar, appeared for sentencing. WHITE EAGLE was sentenced to a term of:
Prison: 51 months
Special Assessment: $600
Supervised Release: 3 years
WHITE EAGLE was sentenced after a federal district court trial in which she was found guilty of Count I - Conspiracy, Count II - Theft From an Indian Tribal Organization, Count III - Bribery, Count IV - Concealment of Public Corruption, Count V - Engaging in Public Acts Affecting a Personal Financial Interest, and Count VI - Misprision of a Felony. At trial, the following evidence and testimony was presented to the jury.
The charges stemmed from two intertwined but separately identifiable series of events. The first was the taking of a $15,000 loan from the Fort Peck Credit Program while at the same time assisting a co-conspirator, Toni Greybull, in her efforts to suppress a complaint lodged by Greybull's mother that fraudulent loans had been taken out in her name. That series of events - from September 2007 until Greybull's death in March 2008 - is the subject of the first three counts.
The second series of events which underlie the remaining counts - from May 2008 until July 2008 - involve the disclosure by Linda Christiansen, Greybull's sister, that Greybull, with Christiansen's knowledge and assistance, had fraudulently extracted funds from the Credit Program. Instead of disclosing to her supervisors or the Office of Inspector General, as she was required to do, WHITE EAGLE facilitated the repayment of the fraudulent loans so that Christiansen's objections to liability would be satisfied, and her prior prohibited loans would not be discovered.
From August 12, 1999, to May 29, 2009, hundreds of fraudulent checks exceeding $1 million were issued from the checking accounts of the Fort Peck Tribal Credit Department. The United States Attorney's Office has charged and convicted ten individuals related to the same fraudulent scheme.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Carl E. Rostad prosecuted the case for the United States.
This was a very significant investigation for the Office of Inspector General that would not have been possible without the hard work of AUSA Rostad and DOI-OIG Resident Agent-in-Charge Joseph Waller. We hope that the sentence in this case conveys to Indian Country and the public that the DOI-OIG is dedicated to preserving the integrity of the Department and its employees," said Jack L. Rohmer, Special Agent-in-Charge for the Central Region of the U.S. Department of the Interior, Office of Inspector General.
The sentence imposed today sends a clear message to all public employees that governmental corruption will not be tolerated or ignored. If you violate the trust of the public - you will be prosecuted, convicted and sentenced for your crimes," said United States Attorney for the District of Montana, Michael W. Cotter. "The facts developed at trial revealed that governmental corruption - both federal and tribal - was rampant within the Fort Peck Credit Program. From at least 1999 to 2009, money was continually and regularly stolen from the program by employees. The defendant, Florence White Eagle, was given the highest federal position on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation. The people of Fort Peck had a right to expect that White Eagle would discharge her duties to make their lives better and stop the corruption in the Credit Program. Instead, White Eagle participated in the fraud to benefit herself. Over a million dollars was embezzled through outright theft, nominee borrowers, obstruction of federal audits, and the complicity of the supervisors who were entrusted to stop corruption - not participate in it."
Because there is no parole in the federal system, the "truth in sentencing" guidelines mandate that WHITE EAGLE will likely serve all of the time imposed by the court. In the federal system, WHITE EAGLE does have the opportunity to earn a sentence reduction for "good behavior." However, this reduction will not exceed 15% of the overall sentence.
The investigation was conducted by the Inspector General's Office - U.S. Department of Interior.