Defendant disputes plea in Chippewa Cree Tribe corruption case

Bruce Sunchild admitted that he accepted a Chevrolet Suburban like this one as a kickback from Shad James Huston but Huston maintains it was merely a gift. Photo from Bull-Doser / Wikipedia

A defendant in a massive corruption probe that has ensnared former leaders, employees and associates of the Chippewa Cree Tribe of Montana is disputing a plea deal reached with federal prosecutors.

Shad James Huston previously agreed to plead guilty to theft from an Indian tribal organization, failure to file currency transaction reports and bribery. He was going to be sentenced on Thursday but his attorney indicated there was some sort of misunderstanding so the judge delayed the case until May 4, The Havre Daily News reported.

One of the charges involves the transfer of a Chevrolet Suburban to Bruce Sunchild, a former chairman of the tribe. Huston maintains the vehicle was a gift and not a payment or a bribe, paper reported.

Just last week, Sunchild was sentenced to 34 months for his role in the scheme. He admitted that the Suburban was a $25,000 bribe in exchange for directing a tribal contract to a company owned by Huston.

At least 18 people on the Rocky Boy's Reservation have been convicted as part of the investigation. The effort -- known as the The Guardians Project in the U.S. Attorney's Office in Montana -- has put the state on top of a nationwide list of judicial districts with the most government corruption prosecutions.

Get the Story:
Rocky Boy embezzler sentence delayed (The Havre Daily News 3/13)
Businessman faces sentencing in Chippewa Cree bribery (AP 3/12)

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