A woman who stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from a Southeast Alaska Native tribal group has been ordered to repay the funds and spend more than a year in federal prison.

Oregon resident Delia Commander, 64, was sentenced Monday to 18 months in prison and restitution of $297,731, according to U.S. Attorney for Alaska Bryan Schroder’s office.

Commander had pleaded guilty to one count of embezzling from an Indian tribal association, after the Village of Skagway lost roughly $300,000 from 2010 to 2014. During each of those years, the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs gave the village $150,000 in operating funds, which Commander – who received $45,000 pay plus housing and benefits – was entrusted to administer.

“Commander embezzled the money by using the tribal credit card to make unauthorized cash advances at casinos and other locations, and by making unauthorized personal purchases with tribal funds,” prosecutors wrote. “The unauthorized expenditures included paying for personal travel including a trip to Hawaii for herself and a family member, online university courses, personal credit card bills, personal vehicle maintenance, and personal shopping, among other things.”

Commander abruptly resigned in 2014, after tribal officials became suspicious of “her frequent travel and lack of financial documents.”

U.S. District Judge Sharon Gleason commented on Commander’s conduct when she sentenced her Monday.

“At sentencing, Judge Gleason noted that such a large amount to be embezzled from such a small
organization was an aggravating factor,” prosecutors wrote. “The judge also noted that the system of federal funding for tribal organizations relies heavily on trust, which Commander had violated.”

The case was investigated by the Department of Interior’s Office of Inspector General, as well as the FBI.

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