Two administrators with the Montana Native Women’s Coalition and the Women’s Resource Center, which are Glasgow-based organizations intended to help Native American and community victims of domestic and sexual violence, this week denied charges of stealing money from the nonprofit groups.
Toni Louise Plummer-Alvernaz, 53, of Glasgow, and Brady Lynn Funk, 31, of Billings, each pleaded not guilty in U.S. District Court in Great Falls to indictments charging them with theft from a program receiving federal funding and to wire fraud.
The women appeared for arraignment Tuesday before U.S. Magistrate Judge John Johnston. He continued their release without bond pending trial before U.S. District Judge Brian Morris.
If convicted, the women face a maximum 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on the wire fraud count.
Plummer-Alvernaz was the executive director of both organizations. Funk was the administrative assistant for the coalition and the administrative advocate for the resource center.
Both programs receive more than $10,000 in annual federal grants. During the period of indictments, from about December 2011 until December 2015, the programs received in excess of $1.6 million.
The Montana Native Women’s Coalition’s mission is to improve urban, rural and Native American community responses to victims of domestic and sexual violence.
The Women’s Resource Center offers educational seminars to the general public on various issues, including health, parenting, career development and violence prevention.
A woman who answered the telephone Wednesday at the Montana Native Women’s Coalition said the organization had no comment.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Ryan Weldon said in an indictment that Plummer-Alvernaz and Funk schemed to take excessive salaries and other benefits.
Plummer-Alvernaz inflated work hours, double-billed travel, took other benefits to which she was not entitled and paid money to family members, her indictment said.
Funk’s indictment accuses her of inflating work hours, double-billing travel and taking other benefits to which she was not entitled.
To carry out the scheme, Plummer-Alvernaz and Funk used wire communications to transfer money, reports and other documents through the Department of Justice, Grant Payment Request System and Grant Management System and made credit card payments to Minneapolis, Washington, D.C., South Dakota and other places, the indictment said.
If convicted, Plummer-Alvernaz would pay under a forfeiture count a $160,000 judgment in addition to forfeiting other property that may have been acquired through the scheme.
Funk faces a money judgement of $30,000 under her forfeiture count.
Plummer-Alvernaz and the coalition were one of the proponents of Marsy’s Law, a so-called “victims’ bill of rights” law passed by voter in the November general election. She helped write the proponents' statement in the state’s voter guide.
The coalition also sponsored a 2014 Billings conference on ending sexual and domestic violence.