Executive Director of Domestic Violence Programs Sentenced to Prison for Embezzling Department of Justice Grant Funds
GREAT FALLS - The United States Attorney’s Office announced that Toni Louise Plummer-Alvernaz (Plummer) was sentenced to one year in prison, $246,024 in restitution, and a $100 special assessment. The sentencing occurred on July 14, 2017, before U.S. District Chief Judge Dana Christensen, in Great Falls, Montana.
Plummer was the Executive Director for the Montana Native Women’s Coalition (Coalition) and the Women’s Resource Center (Resource Center). Both organizations were located in Glasgow, Montana. The Montana Native Women’s Coalition was designed to improve urban, rural, and Native American community responses to victims of domestic and sexual violence. The Women’s Resource Center offered, among other things, educational seminars to the general public on various issues, such as health, parenting, career development, and violence prevention.
The Coalition and Resource Center received approximately $1.6 million in federal grant funds from the Department of Justice, Office of Violence Against Women. Plummer embezzled approximately 15% of the grants by inflating work hours, using the organization credit cards for vacations to Mount Rushmore and California, claiming travel when no such travel occurred, cash advances, bonuses, and paying family members money that they were not entitled to receive.
In a sentencing memo filed in federal court, Ryan G. Weldon stated, “Ms. Plummer used federal funds as a slush fund to line her own pockets.” Congress has attempted to address domestic violence in Montana, particularly in Indian Country, by providing federal funding. But “Ms. Plummer chose to victimize victims yet again” by stealing that money, which was meant for some of the most vulnerable individuals in the community. Weldon stated at sentencing that this type of crime “tears at the moral fabric of the community.”
Chief Judge Dana Christensen agreed and sentenced Plummer to a year in prison and ordered restitution of $246,024. The conviction and sentencing of Plummer is the latest in a series of prosecutions and convictions relating to public corruption, fraud, and theft in federal grants, contracts, and programs brought by the investigators and prosecutors of the U.S. Attorney’s Guardians Project, an anti-corruption strike force created in 2011. The Plummer case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Department of Justice - Office of Inspector General, and local law enforcement.