Former Santa Rosa Rancheria Director of Education Charged with Theft of Education Funds
FRESNO, Calif. — A federal grand jury returned an eight-count indictment against Aurora Cuara, 38, of Lemoore, last Thursday, charging her with theft from an Indian tribal organization, U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott announced.
According to court documents, Cuara was the director of the Santa Rosa Rancheria Department of Education in Lemoore, which belongs to the Tachi Yokut tribe. The Rancheria operated a higher education program through its Department of Education that allowed Tachi Yokut tribal members to apply to have their higher education tuition and other costs of school attendance, such as child care and books, paid by Santa Rosa Rancheria.
According to the indictment, while overseeing the reimbursement program, Cuara submitted false documentation in order to receive reimbursement for tuition, childcare, mileage and other costs of attending college between 2012 and 2016, even though she was not a student. To support her reimbursement requests, Cuara submitted falsified documents, including fabricated schedules, grade reports, and receipts.
This case is the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Megan Richards is prosecuting the case.
If convicted, Cuara faces a maximum statutory penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Any sentence, however, would be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables. The charges are only allegations; the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.