HELENA — Two residents of the Blackfeet Reservation have been sentenced in separate cases related to an ongoing federal investigation into corruption on reservations across Montana.
Sandra Marie Sanderville, 58, of Browning, was sentenced Thursday to 2 ½ years in prison after pleading guilty in February to theft from an Indian government receiving federal grant funds.
Sanderville was the director of the Blackfeet tribe's Temporary Aid to Needy Families program from 2006 until she was suspended in 2010 and dismissed the following year. The tribe runs the federal program, which gives cash assistance to poor families.
Prosecutors say she overpaid between 16 and 20 TANF recipients and ineligible clients, who then kicked back a portion of the money to her. Sanderville restricted access to the accounts, preventing other workers from seeing the computer files, the U.S. attorney's office said.
She tried to delete the files after the tribe began an investigation, but investigators used a backup file to track the transactions, prosecutors said.
She ultimately admitted to the scheme and said she has a gambling problem.
U.S. District Judge Brian Morris ordered Sanderville to pay more than $297,000 in restitution.
Last month, Morris sentenced Browning resident Shawn Augare, 38, to nine months in prison and ordered him to pay more than $6,400 in restitution after Augare pleaded guilty to bank fraud.
Augare cashed and deposited forged checks from a bank account under the name of the Child and Family Advocacy Center, an account controlled by his father, Delyle "Shanny" Augare and Francis Onstad, prosecutors said.
Augare and Onstad, the former leaders of a tribal program for troubled youth called the Po'Ka Project, previously pleaded guilty to defrauding the Po'Ka Project. More than $230,000 was embezzled from the federal grant program and laundered through the advocacy center account, prosecutors said.
Augare tried to take $10,300 from the account. He admitted he stole the money when interviewed by FBI agents.
The Po'Ka Project and Sanderville investigations are connected to the Guardians Project, an initiative by the U.S. attorney's office to investigate fraud and embezzlement in Montana's Indian Country.