Meridian women indicted for embezzling more than $1.7 million from Black Canyon Irrigation District
BOISE, Idaho (KIFI) – A federal grand jury in Boise returned an indictment charging Catherine Skidmore, 55, of Meridian, with 25 counts of wire fraud and 24 counts of money laundering, U.S. Attorney Josh Hurwit announced Wednesday.
As alleged in the indictment, Skidmore was the Secretary-Treasurer of the Black Canyon Irrigation District (BCID) from 2014 to July 2022. BCID is a public, semi-municipal fee-collecting entity controlled by local landowners that served irrigation water supply in western Idaho.
As Secretary-Treasurer, it is alleged Skidmore handled fee-collecting, bill payments, management of the investment accounts, and maintained the BCID’s QuickBooks database and ledgers.
Skidmore also allegedly had access to, and signature authority over, the BCID’s bank accounts, including the ability to write and deposit checks and transfer funds to and from the accounts. As further alleged in the indictment, the fees the BCID collected from its members were deposited into an operating account.
Reserve funds were held in certificates of deposit and long-term investment accounts, including Local Government Investment Pool (LGIP) accounts with the Idaho State Treasurer.
As further alleged in the indictment, Skidmore opened a separate LGIP account on behalf of the BCID without BCID’s knowledge and used that account to facilitate a series of transfers of BCID funds that were ultimately used by her for her personal use and benefit. As alleged, Skidmore falsely represented to the BCID Board of Directors, Manager, and employees by making entries in the BCID internal accounting records that certain funds were used to pay the BCID expenses when, in fact, Skidmore spent the funds for her personal use. And as alleged, Skidmore also created and caused to be created fictitious invoices to make it appear that the funds Skidmore had stolen were used to pay for legitimate BCID business expenses when, in reality, Skidmore spent the funds to benefit herself.
As further alleged in the indictment, Skidmore fraudulently obtained at least $1,792,000 from her fraudulent scheme. Skidmore is charged with wire fraud and money laundering. Skidmore is scheduled for trial on March 13, 2023, before Chief U.S. Magistrate Judge David C. Nye of the U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho.
If convicted, she faces a maximum of 20 years in federal prison. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors. U.S. Attorney Hurwit credited the efforts of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which led to the charges.
An indictment is merely an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.