After several years in the legal and court system, the case of Josh Running Wolf (Blackfeet) and the Rocky Mountain Indian Chamber of Commerce (RMICC), has come to a close. Running Wolf, the former RMICC Director pled guilty to a third count of felony theft for check forgery and a misdemeanor was sentenced to two years’ probation (upon completion the incident will not appear on his record) and was ordered to pay a $30,000 restitution.
In addition to the criminal charges, Running Wolf lost a civil lawsuit to the RMICC. In the civil case, the RMICC was granted a Judgment of, $321,419.49 for damages, court costs of $295.15 and attorney fees of $2,857.95.
In an e-mail to ICTMN, Running Wolf says in terms of the $30,000, “Restitution was remitted for what was deemed sufficient in the eyes of the law.”
In terms of the civil case, Running Wolf, when asked if the $321,419.49 plus costs was fair, he simply replied, “No!”
Dee St. Cyr, (Winnebago) the current RMICC Chairperson disagrees with the Colorado states ruling of $30,000.
“The payment made by JRW (Josh) was $30,000. He stole over $120,000 and the District Attorney had evidence that supported an amount around $113,000 of stolen funds,” St. Cyr replied in an e-mail to ICTMN.
“Josh Running Wolf did this to his own people! He took the most from the people who had the least to give. His actions not only damaged the RMICC, a 24-year organization, but our board, our members and our Native peoples.”
“The $30,000 payment plus two years’ probation is grossly unfair. The District Attorney, Joe Morales, was more concerned about the Defendant (who pled guilty to 3rd count felony theft and 1 count misdemeanor) then he was the victim, the Rocky Mountain Indian Chamber.”
When asked if Running Wolf had learned his lesson, St. Cyr was adamant in the negative. “Absolutely not! He continued to lie in open court,” wrote St. Cyr.
At Running Wolf’s judgment hearing, just before the judge ruled, Running Wolf made a statement to the court.
“I want to apologize for my behavior and I take full responsibility for my actions. I am working to make matters right with the defendant, $30,000 is a start of good faith and I am working hard to make sure I pay back everything that is due. I am also working hard to support my four children as well as my 16-year-old stepdaughter. I am living a productive life now your honor,” said Running Wolf.
After Running Wolf’s statement, the judge ruled to defer the felony conviction until July 10, 2017 ordered the $30,000 as proper restitution with the remainder to be handled at the civil suit. He also gave Running Wolf two years’ probation for the misdemeanor.
St. Cyr also had her own statement read to the court,
The Chamber was victimized twice during this process; first by Joshua Running Wolf who was entrusted to represent the Chamber, the Board, its’ members and our community with honor, decency and morality – when in fact his representation was dishonorable, indecent and immoral. And second by the District Attorney’s office who shut us out of this process and made misrepresentations to the Court.
“Justice” has been a long time coming and not helped by the DA accusing us, the victim, that we were “sabotaging” a deal that the District Attorney never told us about.
The defendant, Joshua Running Wolf, willfully and deliberately committed this illicit and deceitful act against his own people leaving the Chamber to clean up the devastation he caused, and for that he is free to walk away and to do this again to another unsuspecting organization.
Justice was not served today.”
In regards to this entire matter, Running Wolf told ICTMN, “Good people make mistakes. People who truly know me know that I am a good person with a good heart. There was no ill will or disrespect towards anyone in this case or the community. I am moving on from this matter and will not speak on it any further. Thank you for letting me speak on my behalf.”