A former welfare officer has pleaded guilty to taking her own handouts, but the difference is that hers were completely illegal. Sandra Marie Sanderville, the former Director of the Blackfeet Tribe’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, has pleaded guilty to embezzlement and fraud after stealing over $297,000 from the federally funded program to support her gambling addiction.
Sanderville became director of the program in 2006 until her dismissal in 2010, but she continued to get paid until being terminated the following year. She admitted to creating schemes involving both overpaying TANF beneficiaries and paying people not eligible for the program. These recipients would then cash the illegal checks and give a portion back to her. Sanderville was able to “restrict” access to the records, but then tried to destroy documents related to the fraud after the Blackfeet Tribe began an investigation. However, investigators were able to identify the scheme through a back up computer located out-of-state
She tried to gain sympathy in court by explaining that she had developed a gambling addiction which cost her hundreds of dollars per week, but United States Magistrate Judge Keith Strong was not sympathetic to her plight. Sanderville now faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The U.S. Attorney’s Office will also be seeking $297,000 in restitution from the money that she stole.