On Wednesday, November 8, 2017, it was announced that three former Blackfeet Head Start employees had appeared before United States Magistrate Judge John Johnston in a Great Falls, Montana courtroom. The defendants are facing charges of theft from an Indian Tribal Government receiving federal funding and wire fraud. It is alleged that the defendants embezzled federal funds while working at the Blackfeet Head Start Program. The defendants will face a maximum of 30 years in prison as well as $500,000 in fines.
The indictment explains that the Head Start Program is designed to break the cycle of poverty by providing preschool children in low-income families with a comprehensive program to meet their needs. The Head Start and Early Head Start programs offer services to more than one million children every year in every state and territory. During the period of the alleged embezzlement, Blackfeet Head Start received $8 million in federal funding.
The indictment claims that the fraud was initiated because the defendants and “others yet to be named” fraudulently claimed more than 7,800 hours in overtime. As a result, they inappropriately received more than $232,000 in federal funds during a 15 month period. The trial is scheduled to begin on January 8, 2018. At this point in time, the defendants are innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
Additional details can be found here.