HELENA, Mont. - A Chippewa Cree tribal leader is accused of taking kickbacks from lucrative business contracts awarded for work on the Rocky Boy's Indian Reservation.
Chippewa Cree Business Committee member John "Chance" Houle pleaded not guilty Tuesday in an appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Keith Strong in Great Falls.
Houle faces 10 charges that include conspiracy to embezzle tribal funds, theft, bribery, larceny and obstruction of justice.
Federal prosecutors say Houle received nearly $307,000 in exchange for contracts he directed to Hunter Burns Construction Co. from 2009 to 2011.
He also is accused of embezzling money from the Chippewa Cree Rodeo Association and disguising the payments to appear as legitimate rodeo expenses.
Prosecutors say Houle falsified records to cover his tracks once he learned of a federal corruption investigation.
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