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Montana Indigenous Women’s Coalition ex-director, ex-board treasurer sentenced for thieving grant money | USAO-MT

BILLINGS – Two previous officers with the Montana Indigenous Women’s Coalition had been  sentenced to probationary terms and requested to fork out restitution soon after every admitted to thieving federal grant resources for unapproved expending, which include vacation to Las Vegas, Nevada, Performing U.S. Attorney Leif M. Johnson said nowadays.

Sheryl Lynn Lawrence, 45, of Colstrip, who was the Coalition’s government director, was sentenced nowadays to a few yrs of probation and ordered to shell out $35,127 restitution jointly and severally with co-defendant Meredith McConnell, the Coalition’s former chairwoman. Lawrence pleaded guilty on Feb. 4 to theft of federal resources.

McConnell, 51, of Lame Deer, was convicted on April 2 in a federal jury trial of crimes similar to the unauthorized spending of grant funding and is pending sentencing.

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

U.S. District Judge Susan P. Watters presided.

“As govt director and board treasurer, Lawrence and Daychief held trusted positions inside the Coalition. By stealing the Coalition’s federal grant funds to devote for their personal advantage, Lawrence and Daychief prevented the dollars from being utilized as supposed — serving to Indigenous American victims of domestic and sexual abuse. Our business office will prosecute and keep accountable these who misuse grant funding,” Performing U.S. Lawyer Johnson reported.

“The cash that Lawrence and Daychief stole was meant to support Native American victims of domestic and sexual violence. The Office of Justice Office environment of the Inspector Standard will continue on to root out these techniques, to assist make sure that victims of crime are provided the enable that they need to have,” explained Douglas B. Bruce, Distinctive Agent in Demand of the Section of Justice Office of the Inspector Basic Denver Area Office environment. 

In court documents filed in the circumstance, the govt stated that the function of the Lame Deer-primarily based Coalition is to help Indigenous American victims of domestic and sexual violence. The Coalition receives funding from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Business on Violence Versus Girls (OVW), which presents grants for sufferer solutions.

The government alleged that when serving as the Coalition’s government director, Lawrence gained a vacation progress in November 2017. Lawrence claimed $1,826 in travel money for a vacation to Las Vegas. Lawrence claimed she drove, which furnished a lot more money owing to payment for mileage, when in simple fact, Lawrence flew, which expense noticeably a lot less funds. Lawrence invested income on a excursion to Las Vegas, which was hardly ever accredited by the OVW, nor would it ever have been accredited.

The government also alleged that although serving on the board, Daychief acquired journey innovations for vacation to different areas.  In November 2017, Daychief claimed $1,874 in journey cash for a trip to Las Vegas. While to begin with intending to journey to the claimed places, Daychief finally did not travel as planned.  Alternatively than spend again the travel advances as essential, Daychief stored the income for herself. When interviewed by law enforcement, Daychief admitted she obtained journey advances irrespective of not touring as claimed.  The govt more alleged the thefts happened 4 months following board officers, such as Daychief, participated in training about conflicts of desire, whistleblower insurance policies, ethics and fiscal oversight. The teaching arrived immediately after the Coalition’s prior executive director pleaded guilty to fraud in March 2017 for thieving from the business.

Assistant U.S. Lawyers Ryan G. Weldon and Bryan T. Dake prosecuted the scenario, which was investigated by the Office of Justice’s Business office of the Inspector Common.