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Executive sentenced for embezzling $77,000 in grants designed to help Native American families

Posted: 2:36 PM, Aug 29, 2018
Updated: 2018-08-29 18:51:59Z

A Cleveland man has been sentenced for embezzling $77,000 in grant money that was designed to support Native American causes around Northeast Ohio.

Robert Roche, 71, was sentenced in a federal court Wednesday to four months in prison followed by four months of home confinement. He was also ordered to pay back $77,097 in restitution. 

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According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, Roche stole money that was intended to serve children and families in need while serving as the executive director of a nonprofit called the American Indian Education Center based out of Parma.  

“Simply put, Mr. Roche stole taxpayer dollars that were intended to help needy children and families and today he was held accountable,” said Lamont Pugh III, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Office of Inspector General – Chicago Region. “The OIG will continue to be diligent in investigating and seeking prosecution of individuals who steal HHS grant funds in order to unjustly enrich themselves.”

Authorities said Roche misrepresented the nonprofit and filed a grant application filled with "false statements" to receive money through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Roche acquired the services of Craig McGuire of McGuire and Associates LLC to help draft a proposal for a Circle of Care grant.

The actual goal of the grant was to provide local Native American communities mental health and support programs for children and families, authorities said. Roche's application for the grant claimed the nonprofit had an afterschool program that served 500 children — a program that never existed. It also claimed that nonprofit had a wellness department and "mischaracterized" the company's building regarding physical amenities.

According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, Roche pocketed $77,097 that he paid himself through the nonprofit with money received from the grant. Roche and McGuire embezzled at least $183,703, authorities said. 

McGuire previously pleaded guilty to crimes relating to his role in the embezzlement conspiracy.