Coleen Furthmyre Pleads Guilty In U.S. Federal Court
The United States Attorney's Office announced that during a federal court session in Missoula, on April 4, 2013, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeremiah C. Lynch, COLEEN FURTHMYRE, a 46-year-old resident of Helena (formerly Anaconda), pled guilty to theft of government money. Sentencing has been set for July 29, 2013. She is currently released on special conditions.
In an Offer of Proof filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy J. Racicot, the government stated it would have proved at trial the following:
In November 2011, based on information received from Glacier Bank, the Secret Service and the Department of Housing and Urban Development ("HUD") initiated an investigation into FURTHMYRE for wire fraud and theft of government property. The investigation revealed that FURTHMYRE, then an employee of the Anaconda Housing Authority ("AHA"), had been stealing money from the AHA for approximately two years, primarily in the form of cash deposits received as rent payments for subsidized housing.
FURTHMYRE was interviewed on November 29, 2011, at the Butte-Silverbow Law Enforcement Center. At the outset of the interview, she asked, "This is about the money, isn't it?" She then admitted that over the past year she had taken cash from AHA's rental payments, deposited the money into her checking account, and used it to pay her personal bills. She said she would try to pay back the money she had stolen at the end of each month to balance the books. She initially tried to track the stolen proceeds by writing amounts on a sticky note, but had recently been unable to keep track of how much she had embezzled.
One interviewing agent told FURTHMYRE that he thought she had been stealing money for longer than one year and she replied that it might have started "a couple years ago." She said she deposited most of the stolen funds into her Glacier Bank account, but also put some of the money into her account at First National Bank. FURTHMYRE noted that she rarely deposited cash into her accounts other than the money she had stolen from the AHA. She said no one else was involved with the theft of funds from the AHA and that she had a meeting that night with her boss to explain what she had done. FURTHMYRE thought she owed the AHA about $28,000, and said she tried to obtain a loan to pay back the stolen funds.
After they interviewed FURTHMYRE, the investigating agents interviewed her boss at the AHA. He confirmed that he had a meeting scheduled with FURTHMYRE later that evening, but was not aware of any bookkeeping problems. After that meeting, he called one of the agents and said FURTHMYRE confessed to stealing money and told him she thought she owed the AHA about $33,000. During a second interview with law enforcement, he explained how FURTHMYRE was able to accomplish her theft and still present the appearance of maintaining balanced books. He said that she carried over shortages from previous months into the next month for several years. The AHA has provided a final loss amount of $31,243.50.
FURTHMYRE faces possible penalties of 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and 3 years supervised release.
The investigation was a cooperative effort between the U.S. Secret Service and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development - Inspector General's Office.