Blackfeet Head Start Employees Appear in Federal Court on Indictment for Embezzlement of over $230,000
GREAT FALLS - Ethyl Lee Grant, Allen Shane Goss, and Carol Hall Bird appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge John Johnston on November 8, 2017, at 10:00 a.m., in Great Falls, Montana. The defendants face charges of Theft from an Indian Tribal Government Receiving Federal Funding and Wire Fraud. The charges stem from the defendants allegedly embezzling federal funds while working at the Blackfeet Head Start Program. The maximum available penalties for these offenses include up to 30 years in prison, $500,000 in fines, full restitution, and forfeiture.
In outlining the charges, the indictment explains the purpose of the Head Start Program. It was designed to help break the cycle of poverty, providing preschool children of low-income families with a comprehensive program to meet their emotional, social, health, nutritional, and psychological needs. The Head Start and Early Head Start programs provide services to over a million children every year, in every U.S. state and territory, in farmworker camps, and in over 155 tribal communities. The program is one of the longest-running programs attempting to address systemic poverty in the United States by intervening to aid children.
The indictment explains that the Blackfeet Head Start Program received $8.0 million in federal funding during the period of the alleged embezzlement. According to the indictment, the fraud arose because the defendants and “others yet to be named” fraudulently claimed over 7,800 hours in overtime and inappropriately received over $232,000 in federal funds from the Head Start Program during a 15-month timeframe.
Trial is set for January 8, 2018 before United States District Judge Brian Morris, in Great Falls, Montana. The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and U.S. Department of Health and Humans Services, Office of Inspector General.
The indictment is merely a formal charging document. It is not proof of guilt and all persons indicted are presumed to be innocent of any crime until proof of guilt is established by trial or guilty plea.