GREAT FALLS – Willie Andrew Sharp, the former chairman for the Blackfeet Tribe, pleaded not guilty to theft and wire fraud charges in federal court Tuesday.
Sharp was indicted for allegedly embezzling funds from the Blackfeet Head Start Program.
Court documents filed on January 10 state the Blackfeet Tribe submitted an application for a continuation grant from Health and Human Services for its Head Start Program. The period was for August 1, 2012 through July 31, 2013.
The Administration for Children and Family Services awarded the Blackfeet Head Start Program $3.6 million for that period.
One year later, another application was submitted for a period beginning on August 1, 2013 through July 31, 2014 and a $3.4 million grant was awarded.
Court documents state that during this time, Willie Sharp was the Blackfeet Tribe Chairman and ultimately oversaw the Head Start Program. His wife, Denise Sharp, was the personnel manager for the program. Theresa Marie Calf Boss Ribs, Patrick H. Calf Boss Ribs, and Allen Shane Goss were also employees.
Willie Sharp was in charge of authorizing, approving, and ensuring others authorized and approved overtime for the program, according to court documents.
All total, individuals at Blackfeet Head Start, including Willie and Denise Sharp, claimed more than 7,800 hours in overtime and received $232,000 in federal funds from the Head Start Program in a 15-month timeframe, according to court documents.
Willie Sharp faces one count of theft from an Indian Tribal government receiving federal funding and one count of wire fraud.