The United States Attorney’s Office announced on Wednesday that U.S. District Judge Brian Morris sentenced Kathy Ann Sutherland of Box Elder to 12 months and 1 day of imprisonment and two years of supervised release for the crime of wire fraud.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office released the following information about the case:

Sutherland must also pay $111,902.50 in restitution.

Sutherland began working as the Cash & Grants Manager for the Rocky Boy Health Clinic of the Chippewa Cree Tribe in Box Elder.

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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, prosecutor Ryan Weldon wrote, “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 sentencing recommendation includes the following:
Sutherland worked for the Rocky Boy Health Clinic of the Chippewa Cree Tribe.
PSR 11. From 2005 until 2015, Sutherland used and abused her position to take out loans and accumulate a loan debt of $111,902.50.
PSR 13. The policy did not allow new loans if an individual owed over $800.
PSR 12. Sutherland far exceeded that limit.
PSR 13. 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.

More importantly, Sutherland’s case must be considered in light of other sentences given to other employees of the Rocky Boy Health Clinic. For example, the Court previously sentenced Theodora Ann Morsette to 12 months and one day of imprisonment.

See, e.g., United States v. Theodora Ann Morsette, CR-14-99-GF-BMM. Ms. Morsette was ordered to pay $96,948.35, which was less than what Ms. Sutherland embezzled. Fawn Tadios was also the chief executive officer of the Rocky Boy Health Clinic.

She embezzled $15,000, and the Court gave her the same sentence as Morsette. United States v. Fawn Patricia Ann Tadios, CR-13-51-GF-BMM. Even Wilford Harlan “Huck” Sunchild, the Director of the Wellness Center, went to prison for 12 months and one day for embezzling $19,735.77.

United States v. Wilford Harlan “Huck” Sunchild, CR-13-106-GF-BMM. The Court cannot afford to give disparate sentences compared to previously sentenced defendants who embezzled less money.

Given the above, the United States recommends a guideline sentence, with supervised release to follow. Restitution must be paid in the amount of $111,902.50.

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.

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