The United States Attorney for the District of Vermont announced that Louise Larivee, 63, of Swanton, was sentenced today in United States District Court in Burlington after pleading guilty to a charge of embezzlement of funds from a federal program. U.S. District Chief Judge Geoffrey Crawford sentenced Larivee to 8 months in prison, followed by three years of probation. The court also ordered Larivee to pay restitution in the amount of $96,700. Larivee had pleaded guilty on the third day of his jury trial in Rutland last November. The court ordered Larivee to report to the Federal Bureau of Prisons on July 5 to begin serving his sentence.
In June 2019, a federal grand jury in Burlington returned a two-count indictment charging Larivee with conspiracy and embezzlement from a federal program. Candy Thomas, 64, also of Swanton, a separately accused co-conspirator, had previously pleaded guilty to the charge of embezzling federal program funds. According to the indictment, between 2013 and 2017, Larivee was employed by the Abenaki Self Help Association, Inc. in Swanton as the director of a federal grant program administered by the US Department of Labor. ASHAI has operated as a service branch of the Abenaki nation, promoting economic and social development through programmatic efforts in education, employment, and economic development. Each year, ASHAI has received tens of thousands of dollars in grants from the Department of Labor. During this same period, Candy Thomas worked at ASHAI as a clerk and accountant. Thomas had the authority to sign checks on ASHAI’s bank accounts.
According to Larivee’s indictment and trial testimony, between 2013 and 2017, Larivee and Thomas conspired to embezzle, and did embezzle, more than $100,000 from ASHAI. Thomas assisted in the commission of this theft by issuing checks and giving money to Larivée, at Larivée’s request, for amounts that significantly exceeded Larivée’s authorized compensation. Larivee also received travel reimbursement checks based on fraudulently inflated mileage claims. Thomas helped cover up this fraud by sending tax forms to the Internal Revenue Service that concealed the actual amount of ASHAI funds being paid to Larivee.
Thomas, who testified at Larivee’s trial, was sentenced to probation in December and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $20,000.
This matter was investigated by the Office of Inspector General of the United States Department of Labor.
Larivee is represented by David Kirby. Thomas was represented by the Office of the Federal Public Defender. The prosecutors were Assistant US Attorney Gregory Waples and former Assistant US Attorney Spencer Willig.