Former Montana Native Women’s Coalition President Meredith McConnell was convicted of stealing federal grants for an unapproved trip to Las Vegas, Nevada and others unauthorized expenses.
McConnell was convicted in an April 2 trial by a federal jury on all counts in a substitute indictment, including theft from a federally funded program, wire fraud and false statements.
The Justice Department reports that the court sentenced McConnell to four years probation and ordered restitution of $ 29,114 jointly and severally with co-accused Sheryl Lynn Lawrence.
“As president of the Montana Native Women’s Coalition, McConnell has been given the responsibility of using federal money to help victims of domestic violence on Indian reservations in Montana. McConnell even received training on how not to commit fraud. Yet she still committed fraud and used the money for her own benefit. Those who misuse grant funds will be held accountable and prosecuted. I would like to thank Assistant US Prosecutors Ryan G. Weldon and Bryan T. Dake and the Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Justice for investigating and prosecuting this case.
Co-defendants Sheryl Lynn Lawrence, of Colstrip, who was the executive director of the Coalition, and Barbara Mary Daychief, of Browning, who was a member of the Coalition’s board of directors, each pleaded guilty to theft of federal funds.
Lawrence was sentenced to three years probation and ordered to pay compensation of $ 35,127 jointly and severally with McConnell.
Daychief was sentenced to two years probation and ordered to be solely responsible for restitution of $ 2,973.
HELENA, Mont. –Former executive director of the Montana Native Women’s Coalition has pleaded guilty to theft of federal funds after admitting to stealing federal funds for unauthorized travel to Las Vegas.
The purpose of the Montana Native Women’s Coalition is to help Native American victims of domestic and sexual violence, and it receives funding from the US Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women (OVW), which provides grants for victim services. according to the Ministry of Justice.
The prosecution said in court documents that Sheryl Lynn Lawrence, 44, received a travel advance in November 2017 when she was executive director of the Coalition.
Lawrence claimed $ 1,826 in travel money for a trip to Las Vegas and claimed that she drove when she got on a plane, which was much cheaper than if she drove.
Lawrence also reportedly spent the money on a trip to Las Vegas, which was never approved by the OVW, with the statement noting that it was never approved.
Lawrence’s co-accused, Barbara Mary Daychief of Browning, pleaded guilty to theft of federal funds on January 22 and is awaiting sentencing. A third co-accused, Meredith McConnell of Colstrip, has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Sheryl Lynn Lawrence faces a maximum of 10 years in prison, a fine of $ 250,000 and three years of supervised release.