- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 21, 2016

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) - A Billings water pipe supply company has paid a $350,000 fine for a scheme to defraud the Chippewa Cree Tribe.

MT Waterworks pleaded guilty in May to criminal charges that it claimed an Indian ownership preference to get federal and tribal contracts. The contracts include more than $3.3 million from the Chippewa Cree Tribe for work on a federally funded water system project.

The Billings Gazette reports (http://bit.ly/2d1PRjj ) U.S. District Judge Brian Morris imposed the fine during the company’s Sept. 15 sentencing hearing in Great Falls.

Federal prosecutors say former state Rep. Tony Belcourt bought into MT Waterworks with $100,000 in federal stimulus money embezzled from the water system project. Belcourt was sentenced to 7½ years in prison and ordered to pay $667,000 in restitution for accepting bribes and kickbacks in awarding tribal contracts.

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Information from: The Billings Gazette, http://www.billingsgazette.com

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