Boise school-sports poster firm stole from South Dakota tribe, Alaska Natives

Chris Hoshaw plans to plead guilty to a federal fraud charge in connection with taking money from three Native/Indigenous entities in South Dakota and Alaska. Hoshaw is shown here in a Statesman file photo.
Chris Hoshaw plans to plead guilty to a federal fraud charge in connection with taking money from three Native/Indigenous entities in South Dakota and Alaska. Hoshaw is shown here in a Statesman file photo.

A company in Boise that sells posters to raise money for schools has admitted to defrauding a South Dakota tribe and at least two organizations tied to Alaska Natives. The company — All Around Sports — took hundreds of thousands of dollars, court documents say.

Federal prosecutors say All Around Sports devised a fraud scheme that it used between December 2015 and December 2016 to take more than $360,000 from the victims.

All Around Sports runs a call center on Franklin Road in Boise, staffed with salespeople who try to get business to buy advertisements, prosecutors said.

Those advertisements are printed on posters and other products that promote nearby schools, with advertising proceeds going to the schools’ athletic programs, according to the All Around Sports website.

“All Around Sports and [owner] Chris Hoshaw have reached an agreement with the Department of Justice in South Dakota to resolve the matters set forth in the legal pleadings,” Boise attorney Scott McKay said in an emailed statement on his clients’ behalf. “The company and Mr. Hoshaw accept responsibility for these matters. The company has implemented changes to its business practices to ensure this does not occur again.”

The scheme

Prosecutors say the business took $54,000 from the Oglala Sioux Tribe in Pine Ridge, South Dakota. It convinced an employee at a local college, the Oglala Lakota College, to sign an authorization form. All Around Sports used that form to get money wired from the tribe’s bank account, prosecutors said.

An All Around Sports employee “made varying misrepresentations to victims to induce them to [electronically sign] these forms,” prosecutors said.

The business also took $218,900 from Kokarmuit Corp., described as a Native retail company in Akiak, Alaska, and $90,000 from the Alaskan city of Ambler, a small town of mostly Kuuvangmiut Iñupiat residents. Prosecutors did not say how All Around Sports accomplished that, only that it was trying “to further the objectives of the conspiracy to commit wire fraud in 2016.”

Officials at the Oglala Lakota College told the Statesman they got numerous threatening calls and faxes from the Boise company, demanding “absurd amounts of money.”

Boise owner to plead guilty

Hoshaw on Dec. 6 signed a plea agreement on his and the company’s behalf, admitting to the charges.

Hoshaw said he would waive indictment and plead guilty to wire fraud. The maximum penalty is 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, or both, and three years of parole or probation.

The company admitted to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, with a maximum penalty of probation, a $500,00 fine or both.

Under the plea deal, Hoshaw and the company agreed to “use their best efforts” to pay restitution to the victims at or before sentencing. All Around Sports must pay $109,450 to the Kokarmuit Corp. and $90,000 to the city of Ambler.

The company also is being sued by another Alaska Native corporation in a remote village. The complaint, filed by Mary’s Igloo Native Corp., alleges unfair trade practices. The Statesman has requested copies of the lawsuit.

Previous allegations

The company in 2012 was accused by Idaho Attorney General’s Office of breaking the law.

Court records filed in Canyon County show the attorney general once alleged Hoshaw and All Around Sports broke telephone solicitation and consumer protection laws. The company repeatedly called Idaho consumers, sent “false and misleading invoices to Idaho consumers to collect debts [they] did not owe” and claimed the business was BBB-accredited when it wasn’t, the documents allege.

Hoshaw and All Around Sports signed an agreement in March 2012 with the attorney general in which they promised to follow consumer protection laws until Dec. 31, 2015.

That document said it should not be construed as an admission that the company broke any laws, and could not be used as evidence of wrongdoing, but was signed to avoid litigation. Hoshaw denied the accusations by the attorney general, it said.

On the recent federal charges, Hoshaw is scheduled for a plea hearing on Jan. 28 in Sioux Falls.

Watchdog reporter Audrey Dutton joined the Statesman in 2011. Before that, she covered finance policy in Washington, D.C., during the financial crisis. She also worked as a reporter in Maryland, Minneapolis and New York. Audrey hails from Twin Falls.