A Cedar City man has been convicted of stealing more than $176,000 from a Utah Indian tribe.
Following a week-long trial in federal court, a jury convicted Jeffrey C. Zander, 57, on Tuesday on all charges: two counts of mail fraud, two counts of wire fraud, money laundering, and three counts of willful failure to file tax returns. He had originally been charged with 22 counts of theft, though that was changed to an eight-count indictment in 2012.
"As we looked at this case more and more, it became clear it was a good old fashioned fraud case," said U.S. Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Melodie Rydalch. "Investigations do continue [after an initial indictment], sometimes when you look at the totality of the facts there are charges that better reflect [the case]."
Prosecutors accused Zander of stealing federal grant money from the Paiute Indian Tribe beginning in June 2005 while he was employed as the tribe’s economic development director and trust resource director.
Zander submitted several grant proposals to the Bureau of Indian Affairs, which awarded the tribe money. Zander was accused of stealing the funds and other money to the sum of $176,698.
Evidence at trial showed Zander created fictitious companies and falsified invoices for services not rendered or services that were already paid for, Rydalch said in a statement. Also, some checks written from the Paiute Tribe’s bank account were deposited into Zander’s personal bank account, the indictment states.
Zander is scheduled to be sentenced on July 31 by U.S. District Judge David Nuffer.
Each count of mail and wire fraud carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison. He could also face up to 10 years for the money laundering conviction up to one year for each count of failure to file a tax return.
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