BOISE, Idaho (KIFI) – A 56-year-old Meridian woman was sentenced to 41 months in federal prison for a wire fraud and money laundering scheme in which she embezzled from the Black Canyon Irrigation District (BCID), announced U.S. Attorney Josh Hurwit.
In imposing the sentence, U.S. District Judge Amanda K. Brailsford also ordered Catherine Skidmore to pay restitution in the amount of $1,792,207.59 and to serve three years of supervised release following her prison sentence.
According to court records, Skidmore was employed as the Secretary-Treasurer of the BCID from approximately January 2014 through July 2022. As the Secretary-Treasurer of the BCID, Skidmore, among other things, handled fee collecting, bill payments, management of the investment accounts, and maintained the BCID’s QuickBooks database and ledgers. As the BCID Secretary-Treasurer, Skidmore had access to, and signature authority over, BCID’s bank accounts, including the ability to write and deposit checks and transfer funds to and from the accounts. Skidmore’s authority over and access to the BCID’s financial accounts, including the BCID’s savings account at a bank, and a Local Government Investment Pool (LGIP) account administered by the Idaho State Treasurer.
Beginning in May 2019 and continuing to July 2022, Skidmore knowingly devised a scheme and artifice to defraud the BCID by embezzling more than $1.7 million through the use of an elaborate series of transfers between the BCID’s various financial accounts. To implement the scheme, in May 2019, using a falsified form containing the forged signature of a member of the board of directors, Skidmore opened a second LGIP account with the Idaho State Treasurer without the knowledge or authorization of the BCID or its Board of Directors. From June 2019 through July 2022, Skidmore authorized and directed the authorization of transfers from the original LGIP account to the unauthorized second LGIP account without disclosing the nature of those transfers to the BCID or its Board of Directors. Skidmore then caused approximately $1,792,000 to be transferred from the unauthorized LGIP account to the ICCU savings account through a series of 25 separate interstate wire transfers, all without the knowledge of the BCID.
Once the funds were transferred to the BCID’s savings account, Skidmore withdrew the funds, mostly in the form of cashier’s checks. Skidmore then used the funds for her personal benefit. For example, Skidmore obtained the following cashier’s checks in excess of $10,000:
|Date Cashier’s Check Issued||Amount|
To conceal the embezzlement, Skidmore made false entries in the BCID internal accounting records that represented certain funds were used to pay the BCID expenses when, in fact, Skidmore used the funds for her personal use and benefit. She also created and caused to be created fictitious invoices to make it appear that the funds she had stolen were used to pay for legitimate BCID business expenses when, in reality, she used the funds for her personal use and benefit.
Skidmore used the proceeds for her personal benefit including, but not limited to, paying credit card bills for herself and others, real property taxes, home improvements, and making mortgage payments. She also used the funds to purchase real property, solar panels, and vehicles, and to fund an investment account.
U.S. Attorney Hurwit commended the FBI for its investigation, which led to the charges. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sean Mazorol and Brittney Campbell prosecuted the case.