GREAT FALLS — Willard Wilson White III of Glasgow, a former law enforcement officer for the Fort Peck Tribes, was sentenced in federal court in Great Falls on Wednesday to six months in prison followed by two years of supervised release.
He was also ordered to pay restitution and back taxes for stealing $40,000 from a tribal program intended to help youth, U.S. Attorney Kurt Alme said in a press release.
White, 44 years old, pleaded guilty in June to wire fraud and income tax evasion.
U.S. District Judge Brian M. Morris presided, and ordered White to pay $40,000 restitution to the tribes and $18,050 to the IRS.
The prosecution said in court records that White worked as a law enforcement officer for the Fort Peck Tribes. In June 2015, White approached the tribe’s Law and Justice Committee with a proposal to create a facility and programs to help troubled youth. White said he needed $40,000 to establish the proposed Family Justice Center. White posted about the project on Facebook.
White spent the money in less than 30 days and provided no services to the Fort Peck Tribes. Bank records indicated that White had $32.39 in his bank account before depositing the tribe’s money. The day of the deposit, White went to Williston, N.D., and withdrew $305 from his account at an ATM at Whisper’s, which is a local strip club. White continued spending money at retail stores and also bought a Jeep. In addition, White withdrew more than $11,000 in cash in less than three weeks.
Various tribal members saw White posting on Facebook and spending the money and instructed White to return the leftover money. White never did.
The investigation also showed that White omitted on a 2015 tax return the $40,000 of income from the tribes. He also claimed child dependents he was not entitled to claim to obtain a $5,860 refund while paying nothing in federal taxes. White’s tax evasion efforts resulted in him owing $10,184 to the IRS.
“Mr. White’s illegal actions violated the trust placed in him as a law enforcement officer, hurt the youth of the Fort Peck Tribes and all taxpayers. Today’s sentencing sends the message that not only will those who steal from our tribes and federal government be disgorged of their profits, but they also will go to prison,” U.S. Attorney Alme said.