Former executives of the Montana Native Women’s Coalition sentenced for stealing grant resources

Domenica Philio

Excellent FALLS — Two former officials with the Montana Native Women’s Coalition were being sentenced to probationary terms and purchased to spend restitution following each admitted stealing federal grant funds for unapproved investing, which include vacation to Las Vegas, Nevada, Performing U.S. Lawyer Leif M. Johnson explained in a information […]

Excellent FALLS — Two former officials with the Montana Native Women’s Coalition were being sentenced to probationary terms and purchased to spend restitution following each admitted stealing federal grant funds for unapproved investing, which include vacation to Las Vegas, Nevada, Performing U.S. Lawyer Leif M. Johnson explained in a information release on Thursday.

Sheryl Lynn Lawrence of Colstrip, 45 a long time old, who was the Coalition’s govt director, was sentenced in federal court to 3 years of probation and requested to pay out $35,127 restitution jointly and severally with co-defendant Meredith McConnell of Lame Deer, the Coalition’s former chairwoman. Lawrence pleaded guilty on Febuary 4 to theft of federal cash.

McConnell, 51 years previous, was convicted on April 2 in a federal jury demo of crimes related to the unauthorized investing of grant funding and is pending sentencing.

Co-defendant Barbara Mary Daychief of Browning, 45 yrs aged,who was the Coalition’s board treasurer, was sentenced on June 17 to two yrs of probation and requested to be solely liable for $2,973 restitution. Daychief pleaded guilty on Jan. 22 to theft of federal funds.

In court docket files filed in the situation, the govt stated that the intent of the Lame Deer-based mostly Coalition is to assist Native American victims of domestic and sexual violence. The Coalition receives funding from the U.S. Section of Justice’s Workplace on Violence From Gals (OVW), which gives grants for sufferer solutions.

The govt alleged that although serving as the Coalition’s government director, Lawrence acquired a journey advance in November 2017. Lawrence claimed $1,826 in travel revenue for a excursion to Las Vegas. Lawrence claimed she drove, which delivered far more income because of to payment for mileage, when in fact, Lawrence flew, which value noticeably much less money. Lawrence invested cash on a vacation to Las Vegas, which was by no means permitted by the OVW, nor would it ever have been authorised.

The authorities also alleged that although serving on the board, Daychief been given vacation improvements for travel to numerous destinations. In November 2017, Daychief claimed $1,874 in vacation money for a excursion to Las Vegas. Despite the fact that originally intending to journey to the claimed destinations, Daychief eventually did not journey as prepared. Rather than pay out back the vacation improvements as required, Daychief saved the money for herself. When interviewed by legislation enforcement, Daychief admitted she obtained vacation advances inspite of not traveling as claimed.

The authorities even more alleged the thefts transpired four months immediately after board officers, like Daychief, participated in education about conflicts of interest, whistleblower procedures, ethics and monetary oversight. The coaching came just after the Coalition’s prior government director pleaded responsible to fraud in March 2017 for stealing from the organization.

“As govt director and board treasurer, Lawrence and Daychief held reliable positions in the Coalition. By stealing the Coalition’s federal grant funds to commit for their individual reward, Lawrence and Daychief prevented the income from remaining utilised as intended — supporting Indigenous American victims of domestic and sexual abuse. Our office environment will prosecute and maintain accountable those people who misuse grant funding,” Performing U.S. Lawyer Johnson stated.

“The cash that Lawrence and Daychief stole was intended to help Indigenous American victims of domestic and sexual violence. The Section of Justice Business office of the Inspector Normal will carry on to root out these techniques, to aid assure that victims of criminal offense are provided the assist that they need,” explained Douglas B. Bruce, Particular Agent in Cost of the Department of Justice Place of work of the Inspector Standard Denver Area Place of work.

U.S. District Decide Susan Watters presided. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Ryan Weldon and Bryan Dake prosecuted the scenario, which was investigated by the Division of Justice’s Office environment of the Inspector Typical.



(JANUARY 30, 2020) The govt director of the Montana Native Women’s Coalition, together with two board officers, have been charged in federal courtroom in Billings on Thursday for an alleged plan to steal federal grant cash to make unapproved journeys to Las Vegas and to receive other unauthorized positive aspects.

U.S. Lawyer Kurt Alme claimed in a press release that all 3 pleaded not guilty before U.S. Justice of the peace Choose Timothy Cavan. The girls are Sheryl Lynn Lawrence of Colstrip, 43 many years previous Meredith McConnell of Busby, 50 and Barbara Mary Daychief of Browning, 43. All three were being unveiled pending additional proceedings.

In accordance to the U.S. Attorney’s Place of work, Lawrence, who was the govt director of the Coalition, was billed as a new co-defendant in the superseding indictment. Lawrence is billed with four counts, like theft from a system receiving federal funding, wire fraud, bogus statements act and misprision of a felony.

McConnell, who was the Coalition’s chairwoman and government director for Healing Hearts, and Daychief, who was the Coalition’s treasurer and a board member, had been charged in the original indictment.

McConnell is billed with 4 counts, including theft from a program obtaining federal funding, wire fraud, untrue promises act and misprision of a felony.

Daychief is billed with 6 counts, which includes theft from a system obtaining federal funding, wire fraud, a few counts of phony claim act and misprision of a felony.

The indictment accuses the a few defendants of stealing from the Lame Deer-based coalition from about August 2017 right until March 2018. The Coalition’s objective is to assist Indigenous American victims of domestic and sexual violence. In addition, the Coalition brings jointly Indigenous American leaders and state representatives who administer state and federal cash for domestic violence and programming to strengthen methods for Native women and tribal packages.

The Coalition gets funding from the U.S. Division of Justice’s Place of work on Violence From Ladies, which delivers grants for target companies. From Oct 2017 to September 2018, the OVAW awarded the Coalition $318,008 in federal cash.

In March 2017, the Coalition’s previous executive director, Toni Louise Plummer-Alvernaz, pleaded responsible to fraud for thieving from the Coalition. Plummer-Alvernaz was sentenced to one 12 months and 1 day in federal jail and purchased to pay out $246,024 restitution.

Two months later on, the To start with Nations Growth Institute held a two-working day schooling for the Coalition in Billings, where by it taught board users, such as McConnell and Daychief, about conflicts of interest, whistleblower guidelines, code of ethics and economic oversight. The Coalition also received a unique problem about reporting fraud in its September 2017 award deal.

The indictment alleges Lawrence, McConnell and Daychief fully commited travel fraud, acquired journey payments on non-authorised trips, including to Las Vegas, acquired and approved double-payment for “days in service,” licensed unapproved building assignments and took other gains they were not entitled to acquire.

If convicted of the most really serious crime, each woman faces up to 20 decades in jail, a $250,000 great, and 3 a long time of supervised release.

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