The former director of Glasgow-based organizations intended to help domestic violence victims will spend time in federal prison for stealing grant money from the programs.
Chief U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen on July 14 in Great Falls sentenced Toni Louise Plummer-Alvernaz to one year in prison and ordered $246,024 restitution.
Plummer-Alvernaz pleaded guilty to theft from a program receiving federal funds. A second count of wire fraud was dismissed as part of a plea deal.
Plummer-Alvernaz used federal money “as a slush fund to line her own pockets,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Ryan G. Weldon in a sentencing memo.
Congress has tried to address domestic violence in Montana and in Indian country by providing federal funding.
“Plummer chose to victimize victims yet again” by stealing money meant to help some of the most vulnerable people in the community, Weldon said.
Plummer-Alvernaz was the executive director for the Montana Native Women’s Coalition and the Women’s Resource Center.
The organizations received about $1.6 million in federal grand funds from the Department of Justice’s Office of Violence Against Women.
Plummer-Alvernaz, the prosecution said, embezzled about 15 percent of the grants by inflating work hours, using the organizations’ credit cards for vacations to Mount Rushmore and California, claiming travel when no travel occurred, taking cash advances and bonuses and paying family members money they were not entitled to receive.
The case is the latest in a series of prosecutions by the U.S. Attorney’s Guardians Project into public corruption, fraud and theft in federal grants, contracts and programs. The project is an anti-corruption strike force created in 2011 and includes agents with the FBI, DOJ Office of Inspector General and local law enforcement.