Josh Running Wolf, 31, Blackfeet, former president of the Rocky Mountain Indian Chamber of Commerce (RMICC), was arrested January 7 by Denver police on allegations of check forgery and the theft of at least $20,000 from his former employer, according to Denver County Court records.
He was in custody at Denver City Jail after his arrest and was released on his own recognizance, the records state.
Running Wolf was terminated from the RMICC position the day of his arrest. He allegedly committed the crimes in August 2011, court records show.
The charges are both felonies, with a conviction on the theft charge carrying penalties of 4 to 12 years’ imprisonment and a fine of at least $3,000; the forgery charge can carry a sentence of 1 to 3 years and a fine of at least $1,000. Both sentences and fines can be higher or lower depending on circumstances and both carry mandatory probation terms.
Details of the alleged crimes are skimpy, but a letter was sent to RMICC members and partners January 17 that says, “Please be advised that the [RMICC’s] former president, Josh Running Wolf, is being investigated by the district attorney’s office for theft and forgery committed against the RMICC.
“No further details are available at this time,” the letter from the RMICC Board of Directors concluded. The RMICC website says, “Search for a 2013 president is underway.”
Running Wolf, who now is working for Beacon Printing in Denver, told Indian Country Today Media Network on January 22, he’s “not too sure” what the charges are all about, but “I know we were doing audits.”
“I’ve just formed my legal team—I’m not supposed to really talk to anybody about it,” he said, declining to name his attorneys. The RMICC is “under review” by attorneys for “slander and defamation of character” for statements about him, he added.
“I haven’t even gone before a judge or anything,” he said by telephone. Asked if he was aware of doing anything wrong, he said, “Not that I’m aware of—I wasn’t presented with anything at all.”
“It’s kind of a private matter,” he concluded.
At Running Wolf's court advisement January 23, he was read the charges against him and was told he would have the right to a jury trial and 7 days within which to request a preliminary hearing. Although Running Wolf said he had not yet retained an attorney, he declined the offer of a public defender and said he is assembling a legal team. He is to appear February 13 in Denver District Court and was advised to retain counsel before that time.
Dee St. Cyr, Winnebago, who chairs the RMICC Board of Directors, said the board had no further comment at this time.