ASHEVILLE – U.S. Attorney Andrew Murray announced on Thursday, Feb. 18 that Fredrick Thomas Gettins Strohm, 41, of Jackson County, was sentenced to 18 months in prison and three years of supervised release for embezzling more than $95,000 from an Indian tribal organization. U.S. District Judge Martin Reidinger presided over the hearing. In addition to the prison term imposed, Judge Reidinger also ordered Strohm to pay $199,077.06 to the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) as restitution.
Chief Doug Pheasant, of the Cherokee Indian Police Department, joined U.S. Attorney Murray in making the announcement.
According to plea documents filed in the case and Thursday’s sentencing hearing, Strohm was employed as an office manager at Cherokee Broadband Enterprises (CBE), an entity of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. In that capacity, Strohm had access to CBE’s bank accounts and bank cards, which he was authorized to use to pay for business related expenses. Beginning in August 2014, and continuing through February 2018, Strohm used his access to CBE’s bank accounts and bank cards to pay for personal expenses and to make large cash withdrawals. For example, Strohm unlawfully used CBE funds to pay for numerous personal purchases on Amazon, and to pay approximately $52,040.55 in personal credit card debt. During the relevant time period, Strohm also used CBE funds to make approximately $45,855.01 in PayPal payments, some covering personal purchases and some consisting of cash payments to himself. In total, during the relevant time period, Strohm embezzled approximately $199,077.06 of CBE funds.
Court records also show that, throughout the years in which he was engaged in the wrongdoing, Strohm attempted to conceal his embezzlement from the authorities within the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. To do so, Strohm altered bank statements for the CBE bank account he submitted to Tribal Finance, and further attempted to conceal evidence by deleting QuickBooks files from the CBE computer located in his office. According to court records, the authorities within the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians were able to recover the deleted files and uncover Strohm’s theft.
In making the announcement, U.S. Attorney Murray commended the Cherokee Indian Police Department for their investigation of this case and thanked EBCI Attorney General Michael McConnell and his office for their invaluable assistance.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Bradley, of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Asheville, prosecuted the case.
– U.S. Justice Dept. release