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Press Release

Federal Law Enforcement Leaders Meet To Support The U.S. Attorney's Guardians Project

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Montana

GREAT FALLS – Dozens of senior federal law enforcement officials will meet in Great Falls this week to consult with the United States Attorney about his office’s anti-corruption strike-force known as the Guardians. The Guardians Project was launched in 2011 by U.S. Attorney Mike Cotter as a collaborative law enforcement effort to investigate and prosecute public corruption and fraud involving federal grants and contracts in the aftermath of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act—also known as the Stimulus Bill—which provided for significant increases in federal funding in Indian Country. 

The Guardians Project created a  partnership that merged the extensive resources of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service with the expertise and experience of the various Offices of Inspector General, whose departments had provided significant grants and contracts to Indian tribes for the benefit of those communities.  Agents working for the Inspectors General specialize in the investigation of fraud and corruption, and other forms of abuse of taxpayer monies, and possess specialized knowledge of federal programs. This week’s meeting of senior officials seeks to review the work of the Guardians and to coordinate with federal prosecutors about the future direction of the initiative.

Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz will attend the meeting along with senior national officials from Offices of Inspector General for the Departments of Interior, Health and Human Services, Education, Housing and Urban Development, and the Environmental Protection Agency.  Guardians’ case agents and regional officials from those departments will also be in Great Falls to discuss the progress and future direction of the Guardians Project. Management officials from the FBI and IRS will join the Inspectors General at the meeting on Thursday and have informal meetings with the U.S. Attorney on Wednesday afternoon.   

Those management officials attending the Great Falls meeting are:

Department of Justice – Office of the Inspector General

  • Michael Horowitz, Inspector General
  • Norman Lau, Special Agent in Charge - Denver Region

Department of Justice – Federal Bureau of Investigation

  • Mary Rook, Special Agent in Charge - Salt Lake City Division
  • Scott Vito, Assistant Special Agent in Charge
  • Travis Burrows, Supervisory Senior Resident Agent

Department of Interior – Office of Inspector General

  • Stephen Hardgrove, Chief of Staff
  • Matthew Elliott, Deputy Assistant Inspector General for Investigations
  • Don Crook, Special Agent in Charge - Denver Region

Department of Health and Human Services – Office of Inspector General

  • Joanne Chiedi, Principal Deputy Inspector General
  • Gary Cantrell, Deputy Inspector General - Investigations
  • Gerry Roy, Special Agent in Charge - Kansas City Division

  Department of Treasury – Internal Revenue Service

  • Stephen Boyd, Special Agent in Charge - Denver Field Office
  • Steven Osborne, Assistant Special Agent in Charge

Department of Education – Office of Inspector General

  • Aaron Jordan, Acting Assistant Inspector general for Investigations
  • Natalie Forbort, Special Agent in Charge - Long Beach Regional Office

  Environmental Protection Agency – Office of Inspector General

  • Patrick Sullivan, Assistant Inspector General
  • Alan Mito, Special Agent in Charge - Denver Region 8

Department of Housing and Urban Development – Office of Inspector General

  • David Barnes, Assistant Special Agent in Charge, Denver Field Office

Since the Guardians Project began obtaining indictments from the federal grand jury in late 2012, thirty two indictments and two informations have been filed charging 76 defendants and resulting in 35 felony convictions.  The convictions are for conspiracy, bribery, fraud, embezzlement, extortion, obstruction of justice, money laundering and tax evasion. 

Notable Guardians prosecutions are the convictions of six defendants associated with the Po’Ka Program for disadvantaged youth on the Blackfeet reservation, the prosecution and conviction of Tony Belcourt, Chief Executive Officer of the Chippewa Cree Construction Corporation, and former tribal Chairmen John Chance Houle and Bruce Sunchild of the Rocky Boy’s reservation. Eight members of the Dale Old Horn family were convicted in 2012 and 2013 for their role in a scheme to defraud the Crow Tribe using positions with the Crow Tribe Historic Preservation Office.  

Updated January 14, 2015