Jerome Bruce Seaman Pleads Guilty in U.S. Federal Court
The United States Attorney's Office announced that during a federal court session in Great Falls, on December 11, 2012, before U.S. District Judge Sam E. Haddon, JEROME BRUCE SEAMAN, a 61-year-old resident of Poplar, pled guilty to theft from an Indian tribal organization receiving federal grants. Sentencing has been set for March 18, 2013. He 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:
In Fiscal Year 2010 (October 1, 2009 - September 30, 2010), the Fort Peck Community College (FPCC) received $7,357,080 in federal funding and in Fiscal Year 2011 (October 1, 2010 - September 30, 2011), the College received $8,988,437 in federal funding. These amounts included math and science grants from the National Science Foundation (NSF), and the U.S. Departments of Education and Energy.
SEAMAN was a mathematics instructor and grant administrator at the Fort Peck Community College. SEAMAN's position at the FPCC as an instructor and grant administrator provided training and meeting opportunities designed to benefit the FPCC and enhance the benefits of the grants which SEAMAN administered. These opportunities required travel, which, since it was job related, was reimbursable from federal grants. SEAMAN submitted false records related to 12 trips he completed between December 2009 and March 2011. The investigation revealed that SEAMAN routinely made alternate travel plans, failed to attend any training or conferences for which the travel funding was provided, and made claims against federal and college finances as if he had not engaged in activities which were entirely for his own personal benefit and enrichment. SEAMAN used fabricated and falsified hotel receipts to support his claims for reimbursement. The total amount of travel funds he received, or otherwise benefitted from, related to those trips was approximately $19,359.23.
In addition to the travel advances and reimbursements paid to SEAMAN while he was on personal adventure, SEAMAN also received approximately $9,668.88 in wages from FPCC for the time periods covered by the 12 trips to which he would not have been entitled if the college was aware that he was on what amounted to unauthorized personal leave.
FPCC's former president advised that SEAMAN had admitted in meetings - when challenged about the fraudulent travel claims - that he knew the claims were false.
A former teacher for the Frazer School on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation became acquainted with SEAMAN when she and her school were involved in a supplemental math program named ALEKS (Assessment and LEarning in Knowledge Spaces), funded through a grant obtained by FPCC. SEAMAN was the grant administrator.
In February 2011, the Frazer teacher traveled to Anchorage, AK, at the same time SEAMAN traveled to Juneau, AK. They met on the way home at the Seattle airport and traveled together from there back to Montana. SEAMAN confided that he had a female friend who resided in Juneau and worked as an elementary or middle school teacher. When SEAMAN became aware that his travel claims were under investigation by the Office for Inspector General for the Department of Interior, and the FBI, he contacted the former teacher from Frazer. SEAMAN sent her an e-mail on March 15, 2012, at 1:26 p.m. in which SEAMAN stated only "Don't say anything, don't know anything : )."
SEAMAN faces possible penalties of 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and 3 years supervised release.
The investigation was conducted by a team of agents and auditors working with the U.S. Attorney's Guardians Project, including the Office of Inspector General for the Department of Interior, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.