A change of plea hearing in federal court in Great Falls this morning for Shad Huston turned into a trial scheduling hearing.
After Huston’s attorney, Michael Sherwood of Missoula, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Carl Rostad told U.S. District Judge Brian Morris they had been unable to come to an agreement with all three cases filed against Huston, Morris set the trial for Sept. 29.
Sherwood said he thought more dialogue might resolve the plea agreement disagreement, but due to Rostad’s position decided to go to trial.
Rostad said in May he hoped for a complete agreement dealing with the case filed last year and two new cases filed this year. As the parties could not come to agreement, he said, the state will drop the two new cases and prosecute Huston in the case filed last year.
More sentencings in a complex interrelated scheme of thefts at Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation were set for this afternoon.
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Tony Belcourt, a former state representative and Chippewa Cree Tribe Business Committee member, and his wife, Hailey Belcourt, pleaded guilty to some of the charges against them in plea agreements earlier this year.
One of those cases involved Huston, a Havre businessman and former Havre school board chair, who was indicted on charges he colluded with the Belcourts and his business partner, Havre psychologist James Eastlick Jr.
Eastlick Jr. pleaded guilty to some of the charges filed against him and is scheduled for sentencing Sept. 25.
Eastlick’s sister, Tammy Leischner of Laurel, also pleaded guilty in a plea agreement and also is set to be sentenced Sept. 25.
Their father, James Eastlick Sr. of Laurel, pleaded guilty in a plea agreement and is scheduled for sentencing Friday.
Leischner and her former husband, Mark Leischner, face additional cases related to Rocky Boy embezzlement, with their son Brenden Leischner indicted in one.
Another partner of Eastlick Jr. — who also was a business partner of Tony Belcourt — Hunter Burns, pleaded guilty to embezzling and bribing related to contracts Belcourt, head of Chippewa Cree Construction Corp ., awarded to Burns and Eastlick’s construction company. He was sentenced in July to two months in prison followed by four months of home detention followed by another three years of probation. He also was fined $125,000.
This year, new fraud embezzlement charges were unsealed against the Leischners and against current and former Chippewa Cree Business Committee members John “Chance” Houle, Wade Colliflower and Bruce Sunchild, along with Huston. Those charges are pending.