- Associated Press - Thursday, December 3, 2015

HELENA, Mont. (AP) - A former Chippewa Cree tribal official was sentenced Thursday to more than three years in prison after he pleaded guilty to taking bribes from contractors that included cash, jewelry, furniture, a saddle and an all-expense-paid family trip to Las Vegas, prosecutors said.

U.S. District Judge Brian Morris also ordered Timothy Rosette to pay $600,000 in restitution to the tribe.

Rosette was the director of the tribe’s roads branch and the head of its health clinic’s environmental health unit, giving him the authority to award contracts and payments for agencies of the Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation.

Between 2009 and 2013, Rosette took hundreds of cash payments for awarding construction and trucking contracts awarded to Hunter Burns Construction Co., federal prosecutors said. He also accepted gifts from the company, co-owned by Hunter Burns and psychologist James Eastlick, including $6,000 worth of furniture and the Las Vegas vacation for Rosette and his family.

Over that four-year period, Hunter Burns Construction was awarded more than $831,000 in contracts by the reservation’s health clinic and $690,000 by the roads agency, prosecutors said.

After the Rocky Boy’s Reservation flooded in 2010, Eastlick called in another contractor to help with the trucking work, according to the U.S. attorney’s office. Havre businessman Shad Huston’s companies paid Rosette cash kickbacks in exchange for $833,000 in contract payments between 2010 and 2012.

Huston also gave Rosette a down payment for a new sport-utility vehicle, a ring, a pair of diamond earrings and a saddle, prosecutors said.

Rosette approved false and inflated invoices for Huston and Burns’ companies for their personal benefit, prosecutors said.

Burns, Huston and Eastlick previously pleaded guilty in separate corruption cases that are part of the same wide-reaching federal investigation into the mishandling of federal money on Montana’s Indian reservations.

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