Accused embezzler resigns from Colorado exchange

By Katie Kerwin McCrimmon

Colorado’s health exchange has severed ties with a manager who in February was indicted in Montana on federal embezzlement charges.

Connect for Health Colorado has accepted the resignation of Christa McClure, effective today,” exchange spokeswoman Myung Oak Kim said in a written statement late Tuesday.

Kim said McClure did not receive a severance package and that there are no financial concerns related to her tenure at Connect for Health. Health News Colorado has been unable to reach McClure for comment.

McClure had been working for $130,000 a year as Connect for Health’s director for partner engagement.

She faces trial this summer on federal fraud and theft charges for allegedly stealing thousands of dollars from a Montana nonprofit that was building affordable housing.

The Billings Gazette first reported on Feb. 6 that McClure, 51, had pleaded not guilty to the embezzlement charges in U.S. District Court in Montana.  Connect for Health officials say McClure did not inform her Colorado bosses of the charges until Feb. 10 at which time they placed her on paid leave.

Colorado state auditors are already combing through Connect for Health’s finances and lawmakers have given initial support to a more detailed audit. (Click here to read Lawmakers support comprehensive exchange audit.)

As the Colorado audit continues, Montana has launched an audit of its own. In an ironic twist, McClure previously worked at the Montana Auditor’s Office. Managers there are bringing in a third party to conduct an audit of her work. (Click here to read more in the Billings Gazette.)

McClure worked at the Montana Auditor’s Office from 2010 until Connect for Health hired her in March of 2013. At the Montana Auditor’s Office, McClure managed three federal grants totaling $2.15 million to implement health reform. She earned $98,000 a year.

Prior to that, during her tenure as executive director at Housing Montana, McClure is accused of embezzling funds aimed at helping people in need.

McClure worked from 2008 to 2010 for the now defunct Housing Montana. As executive director, she was supposed to help qualified participants build their own homes. The homeowners had to invest 35 hours of sweat equity a week.

Among other charges, the federal indictment accuses McClure of pocketing fake fees that she charged to the needy families.

U.S. Attorney Carl Rostad said in a federal indictment obtained by the Billings Gazette that McClure paid herself “significant sums” for consulting services even though she was a full-time employee, and that she embezzled money to pay her family unauthorized salaries and bonuses, and cover family bills and personal travel expenses.

McClure allegedly charged every homeowner $750 for a nonexistent “technical assistance warranty” and a $1,000 fee for leasing tools that were provided by the grant, the indictment said.

Federal authorities also alleged that McClure used grant funds to buy a personal laptop, wrote herself an unauthorized check for $21,000 and moved money from various accounts so she could better cover her tracks.

McClure pleaded not guilty on Feb. 6 in U.S. District Court in Billings. Her trial is set for June 23.



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