A former employee sentenced for embezzlement of the Abénakis group


BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) – The former director of a federal grant program for the Abenaki Self Help Association Inc. was sentenced to eight months in prison for embezzling tens of thousands of dollars of federal funds from the tribal group, according to the US Attorney’s Office.

Louise Larivee, 63, of Swanton, was also ordered to pay $96,700 in restitution on Friday, the US attorney’s office said. She had pleaded guilty to a charge of embezzlement from a federal program on the third day of her jury trial in November, federal prosecutors said.

His co-conspirator, Candy Thomas, also pleaded guilty to embezzlement from a federal program. She was sentenced in December to probation and ordered to pay $20,000 in restitution.

Between 2013 and 2017, Larivee was employed by the Abenaki Self Help Association as a director of a federal grant program, while Thomas worked as a clerk and accountant, prosecutors said. The association, which operated as a service arm of the tribe, promoting economic and social development, received tens of thousands of dollars in grants from the U.S. Department of Labor each year, the U.S. attorney’s office said.

Thomas issued checks and gave money to Larivee at Larivee’s request for amounts that exceeded her compensation, prosecutors said. Larivee also received travel reimbursement checks based on inflated mileage claims and Thomas sent tax forms to the IRS that concealed the amount of funds that went to Larivee, prosecutors said.

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