October 24, 2012
HELENA, Mont. – Montana Insurance Commissioner Monica J. Lindeen has ordered a North Dakota man to pay $168,000 in fines and restitution for selling fake surety bonds on the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation in north central Montana.
Legal documents filed by the Commissioner's office allege Dennis Lyon, aka Chief Joe Blue Eyes, received nearly $150,000 from the Gros Ventre and Assiniboine Tribes in 2010 to provide surety bonds for the construction of an addition to Aaniiih Nakoda College. Lyon was not licensed to sell bonds in Montana and sold the bonds through an unregistered corporation, Native American Fund Services Management, which he claimed he owned.
Lyon, who currently resides in New Town, N.D., was permanently barred from the insurance industry in Montana by a 2007 cease and desist order. That order, issued when Lyon went by his legal name, Robert Joe Hanson, stemmed from bonds Lyon sold for construction projects in Bozeman, Malta, and Ashland, Mont.
Today's order requires Lyon to pay back the money he collected from the tribes and adds $20,000 to the $490,000 he owes the state for his previous unlicensed bond sales.
"No matter how professional or trustworthy an insurance or securities salesperson seems to be, you should check their history with my office," said Lindeen. "We can tell you if the salesperson is licensed and in good standing, preventing scams like this before they start."
Insurance shoppers can visit the Commissioner's website, csi.mt.gov, to search for licensed agents and brokers by name, agency, or city. For more information, call the Commissioner's consumer hotline at 800-332-6148.