Indicted ex-housing director also worked for state auditor’s office

2014-02-12T16:25:00Z 2014-02-12T18:53:47Z Indicted ex-housing director also worked for state auditor’s officeBy CLAIR JOHNSON cjohnson@billingsgazette.com The Billings Gazette

The Montana Auditor’s Office is reviewing its records after learning that Christa Ann McClure, a former employee, is facing federal fraud and theft charges in connection with her previous work as director of a Billings housing organization.

Adam Schafer, deputy director, said Wednesday the agency will conduct an internal audit and is hiring a third party to review its records.

“We don’t expect to find anything. We do have strong checks and controls in place for how grants are administered and how agency funds are expended,” he said.

The auditor’s office hired McClure, formerly the executive director of Housing Montana in Billings, in October 2010 to manage three federal grants totaling $2.15 million to implement health care reform. McClure was responsible for managing a broad range of contracts and making sure they got delivered on time.

McClure was hired on a yearly contract with a $98,000 salary.

McClure, 51, of Denver, left in April 2013 when the grants ended because the state decided not to pursue an insurance exchange under the Affordable Care Act, Schafer said.

McClure pleaded not guilty on Feb. 6 in U.S. District Court in Billings to an eight-count indictment charging her with fraud and theft. The magistrate judge released her pending a June 23 jury trial.

The indictment accuses McClure of embezzling money from a rural development grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and from homeowners in the program from April 2008 until April 2010.

The rural development grant was intended to help qualified participants build their own homes.

Schafer said the indictment “was a surprise to the department. We had no indication from anyone there was an investigation going on.”

In Denver, McClure recently has worked as director of partner engagement for Connect for Health Colorado, the state’s program that implements the ACA.

The Denver Post reported that McClure was placed on paid leave from her Colorado job after the program director learned she had been indicted.

Ben Davis, the program’s spokesman, told the Post that in her Colorado job, McClure does not have access to any of the exchanges’ finances.

— The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Copyright 2015 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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