3 sentenced for stealing from tribal loan program

Billings, Montana (AP) November 2010

Three former federal and tribal employees who pleaded guilty to stealing from a Fort Peck tribal loan program have been sentenced to prison.

The Billings Gazette reports that U.S. District Judge Sam Haddon recently sentenced 44-year-old Shelly Pipe of Wolf Point, 45-year-old Dolly Crowe of Poplar and 51-year-old Connie Smith, also of Poplar.

Pipe, a former Bureau of Indian Affairs loan specialist, received three years and nine months in prison and must pay $65,465 restitution. Crowe got two years in prison and $143,120 restitution, and Smith was sentenced to two years and six months with $152,963 restitution. Crowe and Smith are formal tribal employees.

The trio acknowledged stealing from a tribal organization and conspiring to obstruct a federal audit and were among six people indicted in a scheme that netted more than $1 million.

They were accused of trying to hide the thefts by altering computer data and replacing their names on loans with names of dead tribal members. The scheme ran for about 10 years until May 2009.