Barack Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, just as many federal programs, is being taken advantage of by those attempting to use its funds for illicit purposes. In two different cases, recipients have been charged with theft and/or fraud.
In one case, in Great Falls, Montana, six people, including a former state representative, were charged with trying to embezzle over $300,000 from funds for the Chippewa Cree Tribe. The total funds for the tribe amounted to $33 million, which was supposed to aid in construction of a freshwater pipeline for the Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation. But Tony James Belcourt, a former state representative; his wife Hailey Lee Balcourt; John Chance Houle, a Chippewa Cree Tribe council member; Tammy Kay Leischner, a consultant; her husband Mark Leischner and her father James Eastlick created a false entity that garnered roughly $311,000 “for personal use and enrichment.” Each individual is charged with theft and money laundering and could have to pay $250,000 in fines and be sentenced to 20 years of imprisonment as well as pay back the funds that were stolen.
The second case occurred in Centreville, Illinois, where the secretary of the mayor of Centreville, Patricia Hicks, along with Tiffany Jefferies, Willie Cox, and Danyelle Radford was charged with bribery and fraud for using money intended for the poor through the “Put Illinois to Work” program, which was funded by the Department of Health and Human Service’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families emergency fund created by the Recovery Act.