HAVRE, Montana — The U.S. Interior Department has ordered the Chippewa Cree Business Committee to reinstate Ken Blatt St. Marks as it chairman, saying his job is protected under federal whistleblower laws.
The department determined there was sufficient evidence to indicate St. Marks was removed by the tribal council in March 2013 because he was cooperating with a federal corruption investigation on the Rocky Boy's Indian Reservation, the Havre Daily News (http://bit.ly/1wBEAef) reported.
About a dozen people have been convicted or pleaded guilty to federal fraud charges over the awarding of construction contracts and kickbacks paid to tribal officials.
St. Marks was re-elected in July 2013. He fought for 18 months in tribal court to have the election declared valid. He was sworn in last month and the committee suspended him again the next day, alleging his construction company had filed exaggerated claims for work done under tribal contract.
St. Marks denied the allegations, and no federal charges have been filed against him.
The tribe has 60 days to appeal the order that also requires it to give St. Marks back pay and reimburse his attorneys' fees and other costs.
Information from: Havre Daily News, http://www.havredailynews.com
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