Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - A Texas man who admitted stealing more than $100,000 from Montana banks as part of an organized group that used forged checks and stolen identities to defraud banks was sentenced in Missoula Federal Court to four years in prison, to be followed by five years of supervised release, and ordered to pay $103,149 restitution, U.S. Attorney Jesse Laslovich said.

Man Sentenced for Defrauding Several Montana Banks of over $100,000

46-year-old Shanetwann Clayton Waldon of Dallas, Texas, pleaded guilty in August 2023 to bank fraud and aggravated identity theft.

In court documents, the government alleged that Waldon, working with several co-defendants, traveled from Texas to Montana, Idaho and Wyoming to pass fraudulent checks at smaller financial institutions. Waldon targeted rural areas because they were a “little ‘country’ and the bank process was slower than in Texas.” In 2022 and 2023, Waldon made at least four trips to Montana, and on 10 occasions, entered a new bank and stole thousands of dollars. Waldon presented a fake identity to evade detection by law enforcement and used forged instruments to create debts in the name of others. In Montana, Waldon targeted banks in Hamilton, Bozeman, Billings and Missoula. He persisted in the scheme months after his initial co-defendants had been arrested. In total, Waldon and his codefendants stole $141,822 from 30 bank branches in three states. Waldon’s total amount owed of $103,149 is payable to six Montana banks, including First Interstate Bank, TrailWest Bank, First Security Bank, Opportunity Bank of Montana, Farmers State Bank and Western Security Bank.

U.S. District Judge Dana L. Christensen presided.

Minnesota Man Convicted of Trafficking Meth and Fentanyl

A Minnesota man convicted by a federal jury for trafficking methamphetamine and fentanyl in Havre and Billings in 2021 was sentenced in Great Falls federal court to eight years in prison, to be followed by five years of supervised release, U.S. Attorney Jesse Laslovich said.

In September 2023, a jury found 33-year-old Rembrandt Carlos Kemp of Fridley, Minnesota, guilty of conspiracy to distribute or possess with intent to distribute controlled substances and possession with intent to distribute controlled substances, as charged in an indictment.

The government presented evidence at trial showing that in January 2021, law enforcement began investigating fentanyl distribution in Havre by two individuals identified as Kemp and co-defendant Chantel Azure.  Law enforcement initiated a traffic stop of Azure and her two occupants. Kemp was located in the front passenger seat and his co-defendant, Martaveon Scott, was in the back seat. Azure and Kemp were arrested on warrants and Scott was arrested for providing a false name. Kemp was found with 4.32 grams of actual methamphetamine and a digital scale. Scott was found with 28.43 grams of actual methamphetamine and 100 pills of fentanyl. An additional 2.9 grams of actual meth was found in the trunk of the vehicle along with a .22 caliber AR-15 style rifle. Additionally, $1,378 was found with Kemp and Scott in the car, including the $800 cash used for the controlled buy.

Chief U.S. District Judge Brian M. Morris presided.

Man Admits Stealing COVID-19 Funds from Montana Tribe

The former operations manager for the Blackfeet Tribe admitted in Federal Court to stealing more than $78,000 in federal COVID-19 relief funding the tribe received by fraudulently submitting requests for repayments to the tribe after falsely claiming to buy COVID-19 supplies, U.S. Attorney Jesse Laslovich said.

43-year-old James Cameron McNeely pleaded guilty to theft from an Indian tribal government receiving federal funding. McNeely faces a maximum of 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and three years of supervised release.

The court will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors. Sentencing was set for June 6. McNeely’s release was continued pending further proceedings.

In court documents, the government alleged that from about October 2021 until October 2022, McNeely, while employed as the Blackfeet Tribe’s operations manager, submitted requests for repayment to the tribe, and received such payments, after falsely claiming to purchase COVID-19 supplies on behalf of the tribe from Amazon. In reality, McNeely never purchased the supplies, and he was not entitled to the money he claimed and received, which totaled approximately $78,415. The tribe reimbursed McNeely with checks issued from the bank account containing American Rescue Plan Act funds, which were allocated to the tribe following a $1.9 trillion stimulus bill as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Chief U.S. District Judge Brian M. Morris presided.

KGVO thanks Public Affairs Officer Clair Howard for authoring the press releases attached in these stories.

The information in this article was obtained from sources that are publicly viewable.

10 Years of Data: Montana's Alcohol Consumption

Montanans are known for drinking alcohol but what does the data say? These results come from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System questionnaire and include 10 years of responses.

SOURCE: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Division of Population Health. BRFSS Prevalence & Trends Data [online]. 2015.

Gallery Credit: Ashley

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