BEMIDJI, Minn. — Beltrami County officials on Wednesday, March 4, announced theft charges against William Blackwell Jr. of Bemidji for actions during his tenure as treasurer of the Minnesota Indian Education Association. Blackwell is also the former director of the American Indian Resource Center at BSU, a position he resigned from in August 2019
Beltrami County Attorney David Hanson issued a release Wednesday, saying Blackwell may have embezzled as much as $140,000 from the MIEA while he was treasurer from December 2016 to June 2019.
The Bemidji Police Department started its investigation on Sept. 5 after being contacted by officials from the MIEA.
Blackwell is being charged with a single count of theft and embezzlement of public funds for a scheme involving nearly $140,000 of fraudulent payments to himself, the release said. The felony charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years and/or $100,000.
Police investigators were able to examine records from the MIEA that indicated Blackwell would frequently make withdrawals in small amounts, however, the total theft discovered amounted to approximately $138,579. Ultimately, Blackwell was confronted about the theft and admitted to making frequent cash withdrawals; he estimated the total was up to $80,000, the release said.
More Stories Like ThisInterior Secretary Deb Haaland Visits the Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site
History Was Made as Nicole Aunapu Mann Became the First Native American Woman Launched into Space
Tribal Business News Round Up: Oct. 4
Hurricane Ian Slams Southwest Florida, But Mostly Spares Reservations
Department of the Interior Announces South Dakota Third Stop on Road to Healing Tour
Do you appreciate a Native perspective on the news?
For the past decade-plus, we’ve covered the important Indigenous stories that are often overlooked by other media. From the protests at Standing Rock and the toppling of colonizer statues during the racial equity protests, to the ongoing epidemic of Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women (MMIW) and the past-due reckoning related to assimilation, cultural genocide and Indian Boarding Schools, we have been there to provide a Native perspective and elevate Native voices.
Our news is free for everyone to read, but it is not free to produce. That’s why we’re asking you to make a donation this month to help support our efforts. Any contribution — big or small — helps us remain a force for change in Indian Country and continue telling the stories that are so often ignored, erased or overlooked. Most often, our donors make a one-time gift of $20 or more, while many choose to make a recurring monthly donation of $5 or $10. Whatever you can do, it helps fund our Indigenous-led newsroom and our ability to cover Native news.
Donate to Native News Online today and support independent Indigenous journalism. Thank you.