The criminal complaint against the former financial officer in charge of the $11 million budget for the Passamaquoddy Tribe at Pleasant Point reads like an instruction manual on how to steal without getting caught -- except this time the man with multiple identities appears to have been unmasked.
Charles Fourcloud, 58, was arrested in northern California on April 25, following the filing of the complaint on April 7 in U.S. District Court in Bangor listing the embezzlement and theft charges against him. Jail time may sometimes serve as a deterrent for would-be offenders, but perhaps not for Fourcloud, who had previously served eight years in prison for theft from federal and tribal programs.
The four-count complaint alleges Fourcloud stole $20,000 from the tribe by submitting false expense reports and fictitious supporting documentation. Fourcloud had not told tribal officials about his past and misrepresented who he was when he was hired last spring, and the tribe had not conducted a background check. Passamaquoddy Chief Clayton Cleaves of Pleasant Point says the revelations about Fourcloud's past resulted in a learning experience for the tribal government for its hiring and financial policies. "We've tightened up in that area through background checks because of this experience."
According to the complaint submitted by Eric Hafener, special agent for the Office of Inspector General, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Fourcloud is also known as Arlynn E. Knudsen, Arlyn Knudson, Arlyn Eaglestar, Charles Johnson and Charles Eaglestar, among other names. Along with four others, Arlynn Knudsen had been convicted in 1997 in federal court for stealing more than $2.6 million from the Oglala Lakota College in South Dakota. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison, which was later reduced to eight years, and he was released in 2003. In 2009, he legally changed his name to Arlynn Eaglestar, then to Charles Four Cloud in 2010 and to Charles Johnson in 2011.
Fourcloud had applied for the chief financial officer (CFO) position with the Passamaquoddy Tribe using a fictitious employment history and fake references and concealing his conviction. After he was hired in May 2013, the tribe and Fourcloud agreed that he would be reimbursed up to $15,000 in expenses in moving to Maine.
In September, the tribe fired him after finding out about his true identity and criminal history. He had been arrested by the Pleasant Point Police Department on charges of driving without a valid license, and the police, during a search of his vehicle, seized identification documents, credit cards and bank documents bearing his different names.
Of the $20,000 he is charged with stealing, Fourcloud obtained $5,000 by submitting fraudulent travel expense reports and $15,000 by submitting fictitious documentation relating to moving expenses.
For travel expenses, Fourcloud provided the tribe with a document purporting to be a receipt for $1,781 in airfare from Alaska Airlines for a round-trip flight from San Jose, Calif., to Bangor. Through his investigation, Hafener found out that Fourcloud ordered the tickets from Alaska Airlines then cancelled them eight minutes later, receiving a full refund. Fourcloud's day planner from April 23, 2013, indicates he had traveled from Bangor for an interview at Pleasant Point and met with the tribal council, chief and vice chief. He was paid $1,800 for his travel expenses, while his actual costs were $875, for a "$1,000 profit," the planner notes.
In July 2013, Fourcloud was reimbursed $4,200 for a trip to California that he "intentionally misrepresented" as travel for tribal business, the complaint alleges. Of that amount, he had not actually paid $2,600 in lodging and airfare expenses. The complaint alleges that receipts for $1,652 for staying at two Hilton hotels were fraudulent, with Fourcloud having paid only $405 to stay at lower cost hotels like the Holiday Inn and his day planner noting in a July 4 entry that he "slept in car Wed. Tired today. Bad mistake in planning." He also submitted a Priceline.com document indicating airfare costs of $1,846, while he actually paid $500 to fly from Bangor to San Francisco. And while he was to have been negotiating with an office of the Department of Interior in California, that office later indicated to the tribe that the first time Fourcloud had been to the office was in September.
Another trip to California in August, allegedly for tribal business, was actually personal travel, the complaint states. Also, he obtained $1,114 in reimbursement for airline expenses that he did not incur for that trip. Among other claims, paperwork Fourcloud submitted indicated an $826 charge for flying from Bangor to Portland, Oregon, though the trip cost him only $496.
For moving expenses, Fourcloud had submitted a check purportedly written to Knudson Movers for $38,575, and he was reimbursed $15,000 by the Passamaquoddy Tribe. That company was owned by Fourcloud, and the $38,575 check had never been tendered. When Fourcloud worked briefly for Ketchikan Indian Community in Alaska, he had provided a nearly identical moving contract as the one provided to the Passamaquoddy Tribe. The Ketchikans had sent a $25,000 check to Knudson Movers, but they requested reimbursement after Fourcloud did not relocate. The Alaskan tribe never received the money back, but the Pleasant Point police found a printout of the cashed check to Knudson Movers in Fourcloud's car, when they searched it in September 2013.
In detailing the emails that Fourcloud had sent about the moving contracts, the complaint notes an exchange with his daughter Aubrey in which she tells her father that he had misspelled the word owner. Fourcloud replied to her, stating, "Done on purpose -- cannot have letter resemble mine in any way."
Concerning the charges of fraudulent job applications, the resumé he submitted to the Passamaquoddy Tribe indicated he was CFO for the Winnimen Wintu tribe in California from October 2000 to the present. Fourcloud actually was in federal prison from 1997 through August 2003. In October 2011 Fourcloud had registered a website domain name for the California tribe, which is not federally recognized. The website listed a contact address that is a mailbox rented by Arlynn Knudsen, and the phone number listed actually is for his niece in Nebraska.
Fourcloud's resumé also indicated he worked for a certified public accountant, Virginia Tulio, in San Jose, Calif., from 1996 to 2000 as lead auditor. Tulio is a friend of Fourcloud, but she is not a CPA in California and declared bankruptcy in 1993, 2000 and 2010.
Two of the references he listed for the Passamaquoddy Tribe are two of his daughters, Aubrey Knudsen and Melissa Crapo. A reference letter purportedly from Aubrey Knudsen stated, "Until just recently, I have been Charles' immediate supervisor for several years."
Among other applications he made, he applied by email in September 2013 for a position with the Sherwood Valley Band of Pomo Indians in California. On his resumé he indicated that he had worked for the Passamaquoddy Tribe since October 2005, when he actually had been hired in May 2013. He again lists his daughters as references and indicated that they are the former tribal administrator and former tribal chairperson of the Passamaquoddy Tribe.
If he is convicted, Fourcloud faces up to 10 years in prison on the charge alleging theft of $15,000 and up to five years in prison on the three other charges. He also faces a fine of $250,000 on each of the four charges and could be ordered to pay restitution to the tribe.