NESPELEM – Colville tribal members Kelly Jerred and Deanna Heath were sentenced in Colville Tribal Court by interim Chief Judge Cynthia Jordan, May 3, in a case related to the misuse of public funds and fraud committed while both were employed at the Colville Confederated Tribes’ Department of Transportation.
Specifically, Jerred was sentenced to 420 days with 350 days suspended and fined $2,500 with $2,250 suspended, and Heath was sentenced to 360 days with 300 days suspended and fined $1,000 with $750 suspended.
The two are also required to pay joint restitution in the amount of $1,663.64, enroll in a 16-hour theft awareness class and serve traditional wellness hours.
Jerred faces 48 months of probation and Heath faces 24 months of probation.
Before the sentence was handed down, Colville Tribal Executive Director Francis Somday issued a victim impact statement: “These are public funds. They belong to every Colville tribal member,” said Somday. “It’s these kinds of acts that cause tribal members to distrust us ... If the penalty is only restitution, we are telling the tribal membership we are corrupt, and we are telling all 1,300 employees that it is okay to steal.”
After a lengthy jury trial that saw over 300 jurors summoned earlier this year, Jerred was found guilty of three counts of misuse of public funds and three counts of fraud. She was acquitted on one count of forgery. Heath was found guilty of one count of misuse of public funds, one count of fraud and one count of forgery.
All charges are Class B Charges under the Colville Tribal Code, meaning each charged carried with it a maximum sentence of 180 days in jail and a fine of $2,500.
Through the sentencing, Jerred and Heath maintained their innocence.
The two have 30 days to appeal their sentencing.