The remaining defendants in a corruption scheme on Montana's Crow Indian Reservation have avoided prison, after a judge rejected the prosecution's claims of significant financial damages.
Former Crow historic preservation director Dale Old Horn, his son, Allen, and Shawn Talking Eagle Danforth were convicted of theft, fraud and other charges.
The case stemmed from cultural monitoring work they did for the tribe and private companies.
Prosecutors asserted the defendants gouged companies out of roughly $500,000.
But U.S. District Judge Susan Watters said Wednesday the defendants engaged in a more modest "double-dipping scheme" that cost the tribe less than $50,000.
Watters sentenced the Old Horns to seven days in prison with credit for time served, four months home detention and three years supervised release. Danforth received 5 years probation.
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The three remaining defendants in a corruption case on Montana's Crow Indian Reservation were due to be sentenced in federal court Wednesday after pleading guilty to conspiracy, theft and other charges.
Authorities said members of the prominent Old Horn family and their associates diverted roughly $500,000 from tribal accounts while doing cultural monitoring work.
Among the sites they monitored was a 2,000-year-old bison killing grounds irreparably damaged after excavation work was approved by family patriarch Dale Old Horn in 2011.
In a setback for prosecutors, U.S. District Judge Susan Watters said in a ruling last month that the defendants can be held liable only for a combined $48,370 in losses to the tribe.
That came after tribal leaders intervened on the behalf of the defendants. Crow Chairman Darrin Old Coyote - Dale Old Horn's nephew - sent Tribal Secretary Alvin Not Afraid to a hearing in February in which Not Afraid said the tribe's losses were not as significant as prosecutors maintained.
Prosecutors have asked the judge to reconsider and make the three defendants jointly liable with four others already sentenced in the case. That means some of those sentenced earlier would have their restitution reduced and all seven would be responsible for paying back the tribe.
The three remaining defendants in the case are Old Horn, his son, Allen and Shawn Talking Eagle Danforth. A jury found them guilty last August of conspiracy, mail fraud, theft from an organization receiving federal funds and theft from a tribal organization.
If prosecutors can't change the judge's mind, the defendants would keep most of the scheme's fraudulent proceeds. They also could benefit from shorter prison terms because sentencing guidelines are based in part on the amount of losses involved in a crime.
Prosecutors pursued the case only on behalf of the tribe - not the outside companies that also paid for the monitoring work. Defense attorneys said their clients worked for the money they received from those companies.
Four other defendants previously pleaded guilty to reduced charges after reaching deals with prosecutors. Three were sentenced to five years of probation and ordered to pay a combined $146,000 in restitution, primarily to the tribe. Dale Old Horn's grandson, Martin Old Horn, was sentenced to six months in prison after pleading guilty to mail fraud and student aid fraud.