Billings businessman convicted in "pay-to-play" scheme - KULR8.com | News, Weather & Sports in Billings, Montana

Billings businessman convicted in "pay-to-play" scheme

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BILLINGS, Mont. -

In court news this week, a jury convicts a Billings businessman and a construction company in a pay-to-play scheme on Rocky Boy's Reservation.

A news release from the U.S. Department of Justice states the conviction comes following a four-day trial in Great Falls.

The document also indicates Kevin McGovern and CMG Construction received contracts on the Rocky Boy's Indian Reservation without being required to submit bids and McGovern and CMG received preferential treatment from Tony Belcourt, who was in control of money for work on the reservation.

The treatment came after nearly a million dollars was funneled to Belcourt through another company.

BILLINGS BUSINESSMAN AND CONSTRUCTION COMPANY CONVICTED OF PAY TO PLAY SCHEME ON ROCKY BOY’S RESERVATION

GREAT FALLS – Following a four-day trial, a federal jury today convicted Kevin McGovern and CMG Construction of Conspiracy, Wire Fraud, and Bribery, arising out of a pay-to-play scheme on the Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation.  U.S. District Court Judge Brian Morris presided over the trial.

Tony James Belcourt was in care, custody, and control of over $85 million, most of which were federal funds.  During the time of the crimes, Belcourt’s job duties included serving as a representative in the House of Representatives for the State of Montana, the CEO for the Chippewa Cree Construction Corporation, and the Incident Commander for FEMA during the floods of 2010.  Belcourt and other tribal officials required contractors to pay kickbacks and bribes to tribal officials in order to receive contracts and contract payments on the Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation.  Belcourt was previously convicted for accepting bribes and is currently serving a 90-month sentence in federal prison.   

Billings businessman Kevin McGovern and his company, CMG Construction, received contracts on the Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation without being required to submit bids to the Chippewa Cree Construction Corporation.  McGovern and CMG Construction received preferential treatment from Belcourt and other tribal officials because they funneled almost $1 million to Belcourt through a company called MT Waterworks, LLC.  Belcourt never provided any services to the company.   

In July of 2011, Belcourt drove to Billings, Montana, and gave Kevin McGovern a $200,000 progress payment of federal funds for work performed on the Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation.  The following day, McGovern gave a personal loan to Tony Belcourt in the amount of $50,000.  McGovern then sent $25,000 as a donation to the Chippewa Cree Events Committee, which was a known slush fund for a tribal councilman who was previously convicted for accepting bribes.

“The community expects that public officials and contractors handle federal funds with great care,” said United States Attorney for the District of Montana Michael Cotter.  “When those lines are blurred, and federal funds are abused in the process, the integrity of the political system is in danger.  That is why we will continue to vigorously prosecute public corruption in the District of Montana.”

The jury convicted McGovern and CMG Construction of Conspiracy, Wire Fraud, and Bribery of Tony Belcourt.  The jury acquitted McGovern and CMG Construction of one count that involved bribery of another tribal official.  Sentencing has been set for February 16, 2017, at 11:00 a.m.  Kevin David McGovern and his other company, MC Equipment Holdings, LLC, are set for trial in a different bribery scheme on February 3, 2017.

The conviction of McGovern and CMG Construction is the latest in a series of prosecutions and convictions relating to public corruption, fraud, and theft in federal grants, contracts, and programs brought by the investigators and prosecutors of the U.S. Attorney’s Guardians Project, an anti-corruption strike force created in 2011.  The McGovern and CMG Construction case was investigated by the Department of Interior, Office of Inspector General, Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General, and the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Division and prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Ryan Weldon, Bryan Dake and Tim Racicot.

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