Oklahoma State University Professor Sentenced on Federal Fraud Charges

By August 10, 2015Tax Crimes, Tax Fraud

On Oct. 22, 2014, in Great Falls, Montana, Gary Joseph Conti, of Three Forks, was sentenced to 60 months in prison, three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $1.7 million in restitution. Conti, a former Oklahoma State University professor, was convicted in March 2014 by a federal jury of bankruptcy fraud and convicted in May 2014 of 26 other felony crimes. According to court documents, Conti was part of a multi-million dollar tribal corruption and fraud case on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation. He assisted Blackfeet Tribal officials Frances Onstad and Delyle “Shanny” Augare, and others, obtain millions of dollars in federal monies for a program for troubled and at risk Blackfeet youth called the Po’Ka Project. The federal money was provided based on fraudulent claims as to matching or “in-kind” contributions of third parties which made it appear that the project was becoming self-sufficient. Once the federal money was provided to the Po’Ka program, Onstad and Augare paid Conti $475,000 from August 2008 to August 2011. Conti then kicked-back $225,000 through a children’s charity bank account over which Augare and Onstad had control. An audit by the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General found the projected loss due to fraud and mismanagement at $4.6 million out of the $9 million provided to the Po’Ka Project from 2005 to 2011.