A former Fort Peck tribal police officer has admitted stealing $40,000 from a youth diversion program and will work to repay it.
Willard Wilson White III pitched the idea for a youth diversion program to the Fort Peck Law and Justice Committee in July 2015, according to the government’s offer of proof.
White, 44, lamented to the committee that the Assiniboine and Sioux tribes’ youngest were “losing their cultural identity through incarceration and separation from their families,” the government filing notes.
The committee then agreed to the program and within a month, White had spent the money, prosecutors say.
On the same day White deposited the first half of the money for the youth program in his bank account, he withdrew $305 from a strip club in Williston, North Dakota, according to government filings. White had less than $305 in his account prior to the deposit, the government said.
White also bought a Jeep, withdrew more than $11,000 in cash and went on a spending spree at Best Buy, Scheels, Boot Barn and other stores. He spent the entire allotment for the youth program in less than three weeks, prosecutors note.
Various members of the Fort Peck Tribes noticed White’s spending and his comments on Facebook about the program and told him to give the remaining money back, government filings state.
He did not, and he also provided no services to the tribe, prosecutors state.
White wrote on Facebook that he “accepted a lot of responsibility” in agreeing to establish the program and looked forward to strengthening the core family values of his community.
“Now the hard work!” he wrote, concluding his post about the program.
White pleaded guilty Monday to wire fraud and income tax evasion. He’s agreed to $40,000 in restitution to the Fort Peck Tribes, according to a plea deal.
White will also be required to pay $18,050 to the Internal Revenue Service for taxes on the unreported $40,000 in income as well as a refund for claiming dependents he was not entitled to claim.
As part of a plea deal, prosecutors in the Western District of Washington have agreed not to charge White with tax crimes from 2017 or fraud charges from that state.
Prosecutors for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Montana will move to dismiss one count of theft from an Indian tribal organization, which carried up to five years in prison.
White faces a maximum of 25 years in prison on the two charges.
Sentencing has been set for Sept. 25 in U.S. District Court in Great Falls.