From the United States Attorney's Office for the District of Montana:

On Thursday, March 28th, 2024, a Billings, Montana man admitted to a scheme where he defrauded the Crow Tribe by receiving checks from the tribe's payroll account, forging the payees, and having the payees cash the checks, according to U.S. Attorney Jesse Laslovich.

Jonathan Cleve Brien, 43, of Billings, pleaded guilty to two counts of wire fraud. He faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release.

A sentencing date has not been set as of yet.

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According to the Court:

In May 2019, Brien received checks form the Crow Tribe payroll account. Brien forged the payees on the checks, and had those people cash the checks at various places. A cooperator involved in methamphetamine in Billings admitted to law enforcement that they were involved in a check fraud scheme, and that Brien informed the cooperator that he had access to a Crow Tribe account, which allegedly continued millions of dollars.

On two occasions, Brien brought the cooperator a signed Crow Tribe payroll check, made payable to them, in the amount of around $900. That cooperator then deposited one of the checks into a personal bank account, but withdrew most of it as cash, splitting it with Brien.

When interviewed by law enforcement, Brien denied knowledge of the checks at first... before admitting to receiving the Crow Tribe payroll checks, giving them to various people who were involved with him using meth. He made the checks for around $900 because he assumed the tribe's payroll account would have $900 in it, and that was less suspicious if he kept the amount under $1000.

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