Former Chief Financial Officer of Rocky Boy Health Clinic Sentenced to Prison
GREAT FALLS - The United States Attorney’s Office announced that on February 14, 2018, U.S. District Judge Brian Morris, sentenced Kathy Ann Sutherland, 61, of Box Elder, Montana, to 12 months and 1 day of imprisonment and two years of supervised release for the crime of Wire Fraud. Sutherland must also pay $111,902.50 in restitution and a $100 special assessment.
Sutherland began working as the Cash and Grants Manager for the Rocky Boy Health Clinic of the Chippewa Cree Tribe in Box Elder, Montana. Ultimately, Sutherland became the interim Chief Financial Officer for the Health Clinic. In Sutherland’s roles at the Health Clinic, one of her duties included administering the employee loan programs. For example, Sutherland issued loan checks to Rocky Boy Health Board employees, including issuing loan checks to herself. Before a loan check could be disbursed, the applicant was required to fill out a loan application and submit it to the loan committee for approval. New loans were not to be issued if an individual owed over $800 to the loan program. Sutherland used her position to circumvent this process and take out over $111,902.50 in loans—far in excess of the $800 limit. Even assuming Sutherland continued to pay back the loans through payroll deductions, (which she ceased doing) Sutherland would have to work until she was at least 81 years old, assuming no interest accrued.
In a sentencing memo filed in federal court, Ryan G. Weldon stated, “Sutherland’s actions are particularly problematic when she knew about other prosecutions, and she was serving as the interim chief financial officer during some of her embezzlement. Her actions were calculated and without regard for the law.”
The Sutherland case was investigated by Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG). This case 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.