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Jury Convicts Former Chairwoman of Montana Native Women’s Coalition of Stealing Federal Grant Funds


On April 2, 2021, the former Board Chairwoman of the Montana Native Women’s Coalition (MNWC) was found guilty of theft from a program receiving federal funding, wire fraud, and false claims after a five day trial by jury.  Meredith McConnell was convicted in the District of Montana.  According to the evidence presented at trial and court documents, from in or about 2017 through in or about 2018, McConnell, along with others, misappropriated federal grant funds to make cash payments to others, buy purses and earrings as door prizes, meet in Las Vegas for a trip that cost $31,744, and receive double payments for meals.  Prosecutors alleged that during a four-month period, McConnell was responsible in the misappropriation of more than 10 percent of grant funds designed to help address violence on Indian reservations in Montana.  Co-defendants Sherly Lawrence, who was the former MNWC Executive Director, and Barbara Daychief, who was an MNWC board member, both previously pleaded guilty to theft of federal funds.  The investigation is being conducted by the OIG’s Denver Field Office. 

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Conviction by Trial