Susan Lynn Meineke Pleads Guilty in U.S. Federal Cour
The United States Attorney's Office announced that during a federal court session in Great Falls, on November 16, 2010, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Keith Strong, SUSAN LYNN MEINEKE, a 56-year-old resident of Browning, was arraigned and pled guilty to theft from an Indian tribal organization. A sentencing date will be set at a later time. She is currently released on special conditions.
In an Offer of Proof filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Carl E. Rostad, the government stated it would have proved at trial the following:
MEINEKE, then Susan Carlson, was the Director of the Blackfeet Head Start Program which receives annual grant funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services through the Blackfeet Tribal Business Council, the governing body of the Blackfeet Tribe.
Between January and July of 2008, MEINEKE attended several work-related conferences - in Helena, Washington, D.C., Denver, and Missoula - which were sponsored by state or federal governmental departments or through non-governmental organizations. For each trip, prior to departure, MEINEKE applied for and received a travel advance from the Blackfeet Tribe. The conference organizers for each of these trips also reimbursed MEINEKE for the same travel expense, and, in some cases, also provided an honorarium or stipend for her participation, even though she was also receiving her salary for the same work performed. According to the financial affairs officer of the Tribe, the travel advances for which she was reimbursed by third party payees were never repaid to the Head Start program or the Blackfeet Tribe.
MEINEKE was interviewed and claimed that she had made at least some reimbursement for the travel during the period. She claimed the payments had been in cash, but she provided no receipts or other records documenting any such payments. The United States will claim, on behalf of the Blackfeet Tribe, $3,072.06 in restitution at the time of sentencing.
MEINEKE faces possible penalties of 1 year in prison, a $100,000 fine and 1 year supervised release.
The investigation was conducted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services - Office of Inspector General.
A copy of the Offer of Proof can be obtained by contacting Sally Frank at (406) 247-4638.