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Press Release

Ex-Northern Cheyenne Tribal President admits travel fraud scheme

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Montana

BILLINGS – Lawrence Jace Killsback, the former president of the Northern Cheyenne Indian Tribe, today admitted to a travel fraud scheme in which he is accused of getting an estimated $20,000 in improper reimbursements, U.S. Attorney Kurt Alme said.

Killsback, 40, of Busby, pleaded guilty to wire fraud and to false claims conspiracy during an arraignment and plea hearing.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Timothy J. Cavan presided and will recommend to U.S. District Judge Susan P. Watters that Killsback’s plea be accepted. Judge Watters will preside at sentencing. Judge Cavan continued Killsback’s release.

Killsback faces a maximum 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release on the wire fraud crime and a maximum 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release on the false claims conspiracy crime.

Prosecutors said in court documents that while serving as tribal president and in his previous job as the tribe’s health director, Killsback submitted false or fraudulent invoices to tribal, state and federal entities claiming travel expenses for travel he was already being reimbursed through either the tribe, state, other tribes or federal agencies, for travel that never occurred or for travel dates or rates that were inflated or exaggerated.

Killsback also conspired with at least one other person in devising and executing the schemes. Although Killsback disputed the amount, prosecutors said he received an estimated $20,000 in improper reimbursements from 2014 to 2017.

When interviewed by investigators in March 2019, Killsback admitted to submitting the same reimbursement forms and invoices to multiple agencies for travel expenses and to submitting fake invoices for reimbursement. In addition, Killsback noted that this travel fraud happens all of the time on the reservation. Killsback was aware of this scheme and described this as a culture of fraud.

In one scheme, Killsback double and triple dipped travel reimbursements between September 2015 and September 2017 on at least 10 trips he made while serving on various state and national boards. He received multiple reimbursements from various entities, including the Northern Cheyenne Tribe, state of Montana, the Blackfeet Tribe and the federal Department of Health and Human Services.

Another scheme involved Killsback falsifying hotel invoices by changing the number of days, rate or total expenses for trips through a software program used by Killsback or a co-conspirator. Investigators identified 28 trips that involved such fraudulent conduct by Killsback.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Bryan Dake and Ryan Weldon prosecuted the case, which was investigated by Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General and Department of Interior, Office of Inspector General. 




Clair Johnson Howard
Public Information Officer

Updated July 8, 2019

Indian Country Law and Justice