NewsCrime and Courts


McNeely arraigned on charges of stealing $78K from Blackfeet tribe

Missouri River Federal Court Building in Great Falls, Montana
Posted at 5:07 PM, Nov 28, 2023
and last updated 2023-11-29 16:30:00-05

James Cameron McNeely of Browning, the former operations manager for the Blackfeet Tribe, was arraigned in federal court in Great Falls on Tuesday, November 28, 2023, on charges accusing him of stealing federal COVID relief funding the tribe received.

According to court documents filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Montana, from October 2021 through October 2022, McNeely was working as Operations Manager for the Blackfeet Tribe.

During that time, he requested reimbursement for more than $78,000 of purchases from Amazon for COVID supplies and other items for the tribe.

James Cameron McNeely file photo
James Cameron McNeely

McNeely is accused of not purchasing those items as he claimed but still receiving and keeping the money from the tribe. He is also alleged to have submitted photographs of his Amazon shopping cart and quotes from a local business to make the claims appear legitimate.

Click here to read the full indictment (PDF).

U.S. Attorney Jesse Laslovich said in a news release that McNeely, 43 years old, pleaded not guilty to an indictment charging him with theft from an Indian tribal government receiving federal funding, wire fraud, and theft from an Indian tribal organization.

McNeely was released pending further proceedings.

The news release notes that an indictment is merely an accusation, and a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.