Gayle Patrick Skunkcap, Jr., Jessie Jay St. Goddard, and Woodrow Jay Wells Sentenced in U.S. District Court
|U.S. Attorney’s Office June 21, 2013|
The United States Attorney’s Office announced that during a federal court session in Great Falls on June 20, 2013, before U.S. District Judge Dana L. Christensen, Gayle Patrick Skunkcap, Jr., age 42; Jessie Jay St. Goddard, age 50; and Woodrow Jay Wells, age 45, residents of Browning, Montana, were each sentenced to a term of:
- Probation: three years
- Special assessment: $200
- Restitution: $56,625
They were sentenced in connection with their guilty pleas to violating the Lacey Act (illegal sale of tribal wildlife) and theft from a tribal government receiving federal funding.
In an Offer of Proof filed by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Carl E. Rostad and Ryan G. Weldon, the government stated it would have proved the following at trial:
All wildlife on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation is owned by the Blackfeet Indian Tribe. In managing such wildlife, hunting is allowed. Hunting by non-members on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation is a highly regulated activity. The 2010 and 2011 Blackfeet Regulations set forth the number of tags that may be given to non-members and the price of payment required for each tag. These tags are required, are limited in number, and are highly lucrative. There are only between five and 10 hunting licenses for each big-game species available to non-tribal members each year, with each license costing between $1,500 and $12,000, depending on the animal.
Skunkcap, Jr., was the director of the Blackfeet Fish and Wildlife Department, and St. Goddard and Wells were Tribal Councilmen on the Blackfeet Tribal Business Council. In 2010 and 2011, the Blackfeet Fish and Wildlife Department received federal funding in excess of $220,000, each year.
Between 2010 and 2011, Skunkcap, St. Goddard, and Wells held four big-game hunts for country musicians participating in an outdoors television show on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation without obtaining the limited and expensive hunting licenses for non-tribal members to shoot elk, moose, deer, and a black bear. They also used tribal funds and personnel to outfit and guide the musicians, television show hosts, and a fly fishing expert.
Michael W. Cotter, United States Attorney for Montana said, “These defendants were public officials of the Blackfeet Tribe and leaders in the community who used their positions to steal property from the Blackfeet Tribal Nation. Public corruption is a crime that will be prosecuted by the Montana United States Attorney’s Office whenever it occurs and wherever it is discovered. This prosecution is an example of great investigative collaboration between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Blackfeet Internal Affairs Office.”