GREAT FALLS — Lawrence Jace Killsback of Busby, the former president of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe, was sentenced in federal court in Billings on Thursday for a travel fraud scheme in which he admitted stealing from federal, state, and tribal agencies.
U.S. Attorney Kurt Alme said in a news release that Killsback, 40 years old, was sentenced to six months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release. He was also ordered to pay $25,092 in restitution.
Killback pleaded guilty in July to wire fraud and false claims conspiracy.
The offer of proof in the case stated: "Killsback was interviewed by the federal law enforcement in March 2019. He admitted to submitting the same reimbursement forms and invoices to multiple agencies for travel expenses, as well as submitting fake and fraudulent invoices for reimbursement. Killsback noted that this travel fraud happens all of the time on the reservation. Killsback was aware of this scheme and described this as a culture of fraud."
The prosecution said in court records that Killsback stole money first as the Tribe’s health director and later as the Tribe’s president. The thefts occurred numerous times over a three-year period and resulted in more than $20,000 in improper payments to Killsback. As part of the scheme, Killsback submitted false or fraudulent invoices to tribal, state, and federal entities claiming travel-related expenses for travel for which he was already being reimbursed or that never occurred or for dates or rates that were exaggerated.
In one scheme, Killsback double and triple dipped travel reimbursement on at least 10 trips he made while serving on various state and national boards. In another scheme, Killsback falsified hotel invoices by changing the number of days, rate or total expenses for trips through a software program used by himself or a co-conspirator.
Although Killsback disputed the amount, prosecutors said he received more than $20,000 in improper reimbursements from 2014 to 2017.