BANGOR — The man known to the Passamaquoddy Tribe as Charles Fourcloud pleaded not guilty to a four-count indictment for theft from the eastern Maine tribe at his arraignment Monday in federal court in Bangor.
Fourcloud was fired as finance director of the Passaamquoddy’s Pleasant Point reservation government in September, shortly after tribal police discovered he was in fact Arlynn Knudsen, who in 1997 pleaded guilty to conspiracy, money laundering, and – with four others – embezzlement of $2.66 million from a Lakota Sioux college in South Dakota. Last month, he was indicted on charges of stealing more than $15,000 from the Passamaquoddy, mostly via false travel and moving expenses.
Fourcloud, a fit-looking man in an orange prison jumpsuit, had shaved his hair since his arrest last year by the Pleasant Point police. He appeared attentive during the 20-minute proceeding in U.S. District Court, answering questions in a clear voice, with one exception.
When asked how he pleaded, Fourcloud mumbled an answer, leading the clerk and some in the audience to at first mishear his not guilty plea as guilty, but Judge John A. Woodcock quickly sought clarification.
Fourcloud, 59, did not contest a motion by a federal prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney F. Todd Lowell, to have him detained pending trial. Fourcloud’s trial is scheduled to begin July 8 in Bangor.
If found guilty, he faces up to 10 years in prison on one count of theft from an Indian tribal government and up to five years in prison on each of three counts of embezzlement from an Indian tribal organization. He also faces fines of as much as $1 million.
After his release from prison for the Lakota Sioux embezzlement, Fourcloud for years had bounced around the country, taking senior financial administration jobs at various small tribes under a variety of assumed names: Arlyn Eaglestar, Arlyn Knudson, Charles Johnson and Charles Eaglestar.
The tribes appear to have several things in common: They were each small and trusting enough to have not sought a criminal background check of their job applicants. Fourcloud served in most of his jobs for only a few months before being terminated, although the tribes the Press Herald contacted would not disclose the reasons for his severance.
He was arrested Sept. 24 in the parking lot of the Pleasant Point government building and charged with driving under a suspended California license. Those charges were later dropped, but investigators continued probing his tenure in Maine, and he was arrested last month on the theft charges.
While still free this January, Fourcloud flew to the Fort Bidwell Indian Reservation in a remote part of northeastern California to apply for a job as chief financial officer under the name Leon Knudsen. Tribal members there were about to offer him the position when one member ran across a Press Herald story with Fourcloud’s photo.
He was arrested in northern California on April 25.
While Fourcloud changed his name numerous times over the years after being convicted in South Dakota in 1997, he kept the same birth date and Social Security number, according to an affidavit filed in court by Eric Hafener, an agent for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Fourcloud was hired as chief financial officer by the Passamaquoddy Tribe, in the coastal town of Perry on the Canadian border, in the spring of 2013, the year the tribe was awarded a federal grant of $4,344,618 from the Department of Health and Human Services for education, energy assistance and health services, Hafener wrote.
“Fourcloud applied for the CFO position using a resume containing fictitious employment history and fake references and concealing the fact that he had been convicted of a crime and had served a prison sentence,” Hafener said in the affidavit.
The tribe paid Fourcloud $5,052.30 in travel expenses in April, July and August of 2013 and paid him $15,000 in moving expenses in May 2013 after Fourcloud submitted fake receipts for those expenses, Hafener wrote.
Fourcloud sought and received a court-appointed attorney – Terence M. Harrigan of Bangor – after declaring total assets of $6,000, some of them in the form of uncashed payroll checks.
Harrigan declined to comment on the case, as did the federal prosecutor.
Staff Writer Scott Dolan contributed to this story.
Colin Woodard can be reached at 791-6317 or at: