Former Blackfeet tribal chairman hit with civil fraud judgment by federal judge

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BILLINGS, Montana — A federal judge has issued a civil fraud judgment against a former chairman of Montana's Blackfeet Indian Tribe who authorities said lied to claim money in a discrimination settlement.

U.S. District Judge Brian Morris said Thursday that 56-year-old Patrick Charles Thomas falsely complained he was discriminated against in a U.S. Department of Agriculture loan program.

The U.S. attorney's office is seeking more than $944,000 in losses and damages.

In 2011, the government reached a $710 million class action settlement following allegations of discrimination against American Indians who sought USDA loans between 1981 and 1999.

Under that settlement, Thomas applied for and received loan forgiveness, a settlement award and tax waivers amounting to more than $314,000.

In October, Thomas was sentenced to a year in prison and ordered to pay nearly $163,000 for selling property he pledged as collateral on his loans.

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