The youngest defendant in a corruption case on Montana's Crow Indian Reservation has reached a deal with prosecutors and intends to plead guilty on an alternate set of charges, according to court papers and attorneys in the case.
Martin Lloyd Old Horn, 22, filed notice with U.S. District Judge Sam Haddon that he intends to plead guilty to charges including larceny, for taking payments from an outside company but not doing the work as a monitor for historic sites on the reservation.
He also intends to plead guilty to fraud charges, for not reporting those payments as income when applying for student aid.
In return, prosecutors would dismiss charges that Old Horn conspired with members of his family and others to double-bill the tribe for the monitoring, Assistant U.S. Attorney Carl Rostad said during a hearing before Haddon this week.
Authorities say more than $500,000 from monitoring payments was diverted from the tribe as part of the broader conspiracy.
That allegedly took place at a time when the tribe's historic preservation office was headed by Old Horn's grandfather, Dale Old Horn, who approved an excavation project as part of a coal mine that severely damaged a 2,000-year-old bison kill site on the reservation.
Dale Old Horn and two others have pleaded not guilty to the alleged conspiracy and are scheduled to go to trial in August.
Three other defendants in the case reached plea deals. They were convicted on lesser charges and sentenced to probation and restitution.
Martin Old Horn's attorney, Kelly Varnes, said his client didn't take any tribal money and would pay back in restitution about half of the $42,000 he received as a monitor from an outside consulting firm.
"I didn't see this as the corruption case the government is trying to make it," Varnes said. "We're cutting our losses on two cases that are going to be a whole lot harder to defend."