A former director of Colorado’s state-run health care exchange pleaded guilty last week to defrauding taxpayers while she was running a nonprofit housing agency in Montana.
Christa Ann McClure, who now lives in Denver, was supposedly fully vetted by her Colorado employers before being hired as the director of partner engagement at Connect for Health Colorado, the state Obamacare exchange. The job paid $130,000, according to the Denver Post.
But McClure was later indicted in Montana on eight counts of theft and fraud for allegedly stealing from the government and from homeowners seeking assistance under a federal rural development program while she was the executive director of Housing Montana.
McClure was placed on paid leave from Connect for Health Colorado once news of the indictment was reported in Montana media, according to the Denver Post.
Last week, she struck a deal in which she pled guilty to misdemeanor theft of public money in exchange for prosecutors dropping the eight felony counts in the indictment, according to the Billings Gazette.
McClure was sentenced to two years of probation and fined $1,000. She was also ordered to make restitution in the amounts of $22,000 to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development program and $1,000 each to 11 homeowners who were enrolled in the program.
McClure originally faced a potential five-20 years in prison and fines of up to $250,000 for each count in the indictment. Prosecutors say she spent federal money on personal expenses, including travel, and once wrote herself a $21,000 check for which she wasn’t authorized.
They also say she charged homeowners $1,000 for leasing tools that were provided under federal grants and also charged them $750 for a fictitious “technical assistance warranty,” the Gazette reported.
A Connect For Health Colorado spokesman told the Denver Post earlier in the year that McClure was “completely clean” after a background check performed prior to being hired. He also said McClure didn’t have access to any of the health care exchange’s money.
But critics say McClure provides a perfect example of why the exchange — which has been plagued by questions about its finances and spending priorities — should be fully audited, a proposal that was killed by Democrats earlier this year.
“When you have shameful people like McClure in a position like hers, in a health care exchange that hasn’t been audited the way it deserves to be, it rightfully raises concern,” said Jonathan Lockwood, a Colorado Republican strategist, in an email to The Daily Caller News Foundation. “What is it going to take to get a complete audit?”
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