Posted: Jun 21, 2013 9:29 PM by MTN News
Gayle Patrick Skunkcap, Jr., Jessie Ray St. Goddard, and Woodrow Jay Wells were sentenced in federal court in Great Falls on Thursday to three years of probation and ordered to pay $56,625 in restitution.
They were sentenced after pleading guilty to violating the Lacey Act (illegal sale of tribal wildlife) and theft from a tribal government receiving federal funding.
A press release from the U.S. Attorney's Office provided the following information:
All wildlife on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation are owned by the Blackfeet Indian Tribe. In managing such wildlife, hunting is allowed. Hunting by non-members on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation is a highly regulated activity.
The 2010 and 2011 Blackfeet Regulations set forth the number of tags that may be given to non-members and the price of payment required for each tag. These tags are required, are limited in number, and are highly lucrative.
There are only between five and ten hunting licenses for each big-game species available to non-tribal members each year, with each license costing between $1,500 and $12,000, depending on the animal.
Skunkcap, Jr., was the Director of the Blackfeet Fish and Wildlife Department, and St. Goddard and Wells were Tribal Councilmen on the Blackfeet Tribal Business Council.
In 2010 and 2011, the Blackfeet Fish and Wildlife Department received federal funding in excess of $220,000, each year.
Between 2010 and 2011, the three held four big-game hunts for country musicians participating in an outdoors television show on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation without obtaining the limited and expensive hunting licenses for non-tribal members to shoot elk, moose, deer, and a black bear.
They also used tribal funds and personnel to outfit and guide the musicians, television show hosts, and a fly fishing expert.
Michael Cotter, United States Attorney for Montana said, "These defendants were public officials of the Blackfeet Tribe and leaders in the community who used their positions to steal property from the Blackfeet Tribal Nation. Public corruption is a crime that will be prosecuted by the Montana United States Attorney's Office whenever it occurs and wherever it is discovered.