Five Accused of Diverting Stimulus Money From Tribe

Former chairman of the Chippewa Cree tribe Kenneth Blatt / AP

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A former Chippewa Cree tribe leader, a former state lawmaker, and three others pocketed hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal stimulus aid meant for the Montana tribe, the Associated Press reports.

The Chippewa Cree Tribe received $33 million in federal funding between 2009 and 2010 for construction of a $361 million pipeline to supply fresh drinking water for the Rocky Boy's Indian Reservation and surrounding counties in northern Montana. Most of that $33 million came from the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment act, also known as the stimulus.

The CEO of the tribal company that headed the pipeline project, Chippewa Cree Construction Corp., awarded contracts and authorized cash transfers in a complex web of transactions to embezzle and launder the money, according to the indictment unsealed Tuesday.

Federal prosecutors are seeking the return of $311,000.

Funding for the pipeline was halted in March after it was discovered money was missing.

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