A member of the Chippewa Cree Tribe’s governing council pleaded not guilty to new charges this morning in federal court in Great Falls.
John “Chance” Houle, a member and former chair of the Business Committee at Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation. was arraigned in three separate cases this morning, pleading not guilty to all charges.
Houle declined to comment after the hearing.
Houle waived a reading of the charges and details were not available by printing deadline this morning.
A codefendant did not appear at the arraignment this morning. An assistant U.S. attorney said it appeared that some confusion had arisen as to the time of the arraignment, but said the government would proceed with an arrest warrant, and the defendant's name will be released at that time.
Houle was among the first indicted last year on fraud and embezzlement charges at Rocky Boy, alleging he and five other defendants stole money appropriated through President Barack Obama’s economic stimulus package for work on building a new water system for Rocky Boy and across north-central Montana to the Rocky Mountain Front.
Those charges against Houle were dropped in September.
All others in that case except one have pleaded guilty to charges in that or other cases in an interrelated plea agreement, including former tribal council member and state legislator Tony Belcourt.
The government dismissed the charges against the last defendant in that case, Mark Leischner of Laurel, although he faces related charges along with his ex-wife, Tammy Leischner, and son, Brendan Leischner.
Magistrate Judge Keith Strong set a scheduling conference for Houle’s case with U.S. District Judge Brian Morris for June 27.