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Press Release

Ex-Northern Cheyenne Tribal President sentenced to six months in prison for travel fraud scheme

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

BILLINGS—The former president of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe was sentenced today to six months in prison, three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $25,092 restitution for a travel fraud scheme in which he admitted stealing from federal, state and tribal agencies, U.S. Attorney Kurt Alme said.

Lawrence Jace Killsback, 40, of Busby, pleaded guilty in July to wire fraud and to false claims conspiracy. In admitting the scheme to investigators, 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.

U.S. District Judge Susan P. Watters presided.

“Mr. Killsback exploited his positions as the tribe’s health director and then as its president to steal funds intended to benefit tribal members and programs for his own personal enrichment. His conduct violated the public’s trust in his official positions. We will prosecute such frauds to the full extent of the law. I want to thank Assistant U.S. Attorneys Bryan Dake and Ryan Weldon, the Guardian’s Project and the Office of Inspector General for the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Interior, for their work on the case,” U.S. Attorney Alme said.

The prosecution said in court records that Killsback stole money first in his position as the Tribe’s health director and later as the Tribe’s president. The thefts occurred multiple times over a three-year period and resulted in more than $20,000 in improper payments to Killsback. As part of the scheme, Killsback submitted false or fraudulent invoices to tribal, state and federal entities claiming travel-related expenses for travel for which he was already being reimbursed or that never occurred or for dates or rates that were exaggerated.

In one scheme, Killsback double and triple dipped travel reimbursement on at least 10 trips he made while serving on various state and national boards.

In another scheme, Killsback falsified hotel invoices by changing the number of days, rate or total expenses for trips through a software program used by himself or a co-conspirator.

Although Killsback disputed the amount, prosecutors said he received more than $20,000 in improper reimbursements from 2014 to 2017.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Bryan Dake and Ryan Weldon prosecuted the case, which was investigated by the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General and the Department of Interior, Office of Inspector General. The case is part of the Guardians Project, which is a multi-agency anti-fraud task force that investigates and prosecutes persons attempting to use federal funds for private gain.



Clair Johnson Howard
Public Information Officer

Updated December 12, 2019

Indian Country Law and Justice