Blackfeet man convicted of defrauding youth program appeals sentence


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HELENA, Montana — A Blackfeet man convicted of participating in a scheme to defraud a federally funded youth program is taking his case to a federal appeals court in an attempt to have his 3 1/2 -year prison sentence reduced, his attorney said Thursday.

Delyle "Shanny" Augare was sentenced to 44 months in prison and ordered to pay $1 million in restitution on June 24 after pleading guilty to conspiracy, embezzlement and income-tax evasion charges.

Augare filed a notice of appeal Monday with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. His attorney, Colin Stephens, said he is asking the appellate court to reconsider U.S. District Judge Brian Morris' ruling that Augare participated in a sophisticated fraud scheme.

If the appeals court rules in Augare's favor, the guidelines for Augare's sentencing would be reduced. But, Stephens said the guidelines aren't restrictive and Morris could still impose the same 3 1/2-year sentence.

"It's up to Judge Morris," Stephens said.

Augare was the assistant director of the Po'Ka Project, a program for troubled youth on the northwestern Montana reservation that received $9.3 million in federal funding between 2005 and 2011.

The tribe was expected to contribute to an increasing share of the program's expenses as time went on, but the project shut down when the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services money ran out.

Prosecutors said Augare and five other defendants embezzled money from the program and doctored invoices to exaggerate what the tribe was contributing to its share of the cost. Augare and the program's director, Francis Onstad, received the stiffest punishments in the scheme.

Onstad has not filed an appeal.

Augare's son, Shawn Augare was sentenced in May to nine months in prison after pleading guilty to bank fraud related to the Po'Ka scheme. Prosecutors said Shawn Augare cashed and deposited forged checks from a bank account that Delyle Augare and Onstad used to launder the embezzled money.

Delyle Augare also is the father of Sen. Shannon Augare, D-Browning, who has not been implicated in the fraud scheme.

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