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Press Release

Cleveland man indicted for stealing $77,000 in federal grants designed to help Native Americans

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

A Cleveland man was indicted on charges that he stole more than $77,000 in federal grants designed to help Native Americans, said U.S. Attorney Justin E. Herdman and Lamont Pugh III, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Office of Inspector General.


A three-count indictment charges Robert Roche, 70, with one count of conspiracy to commit theft concerning programs receiving federal funds and two counts of theft from programs receiving federal funds.


“Mr. Roche took tens of thousands of dollars earmarked for Native American children and families and put the money in his own pockets,” Herdman said.


“Federal funds provided through the Circles of Care grant administered by the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Administration are precious and invaluable to the communities and individuals they serve,” said Lamont Pugh III, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Office of Inspector General – Chicago Region. “The embezzlement, stealing, or intentional misappropriation of these funds is inexcusable and will not be tolerated. The OIG will continue to identify, investigate and seek the prosecution of those individuals who improperly enrich themselves with vital taxpayer dollars.”


Roche served as executive director of the American Indian Education Center (AIEC), a Parma-based nonprofit established in 1995 to support Native American causes in Northeast Ohio, according to the information.


Craig McGuire operated McGuire & Associates LLC, a company that wrote grant applications and provided evaluation services. Roche entered into an agreement with McGuire & Associates in April 2011 to draft grant proposals on behalf of the AIEC. Later that year, McGuire submitted an application on behalf of the AIEC to receive a Circle of Care grant, offered through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The grant was designed to provide Native American communities with the tools and resources to design programs to support mental health and wellness for children and families, according to the indictment.


The AIEC’s application contained numerous false statements including: misrepresenting the date the AIEC was established; falsely claiming the AIEC had a wellness department and a “Positive Paths” afterschool program serving 500 children when no such department or program existed; fraudulently listing people the AIEC allegedly employed and mischaracterizing the description of the AIEC’s building and alleged physical amenities, according to the indictment.


SAMHSA awarded the AIEC a Circle of Care grant on Sept. 1, 2012 of approximately $302,340 for FY 2012. On June 26, 2012, SAMHSA awarded the second year of a Circle of Care grant in the amount of $308,040 for FY 2013, according to the indictment.


The AIEC received approximately $482,766 from SAMHSA from 2011 through 2013. The AIEC did not receive full funding because SAMHSA placed it in “high risk” status, according to the indictment.


Roche paid himself through AIEC on several occasions as a project coordinator for the Circle of Care project. Roche was not identified as the project coordinator on the grant application and such payments were precluded by regulation, according to the indictment.


Roche and McGuire embezzled at least $183,703 from the SAMHSA grant. Roche converted approximately $77,097 of that money for his own personal use, according to the indictment.


McGuire pleaded guilty earlier this year to crimes related to his role in the conspiracy and is awaiting sentencing.


If convicted, the defendant’s sentence will be determined by the court after review of factors unique to this case, including the defendant’s prior criminal record, if any, the defendant’s role in the offense and the characteristics of the violations. In all cases, the sentence will not exceed the statutory maximum and, in most cases, it will be less than the maximum.


This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Robert J. Patton following an investigation by the Department of Health and Human Services – Office of Inspector General.


An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.


Mike Tobin

Updated August 30, 2017

Financial Fraud