SAWYER COUNTY -- A team of federal agents led by Special Agent Maggie Walker from the United States Health and Human Services Department appeared before the Lac Courte Oreilles Tribal Governing Board at their weekly meeting on Monday, August 17, to investigate LCO Health Center Financials regarding the Indian Health Service Bemidji Area Office (BAO) Performance Monitoring Visit report submitted to the TGB on August 13.
In the fall of 2019, following a series of concerns relating to the LCO Community Health Center, LCO Tribal Chairman Louis Taylor requested the (BAO) conduct the monitoring visit of the clinic. The visit was conducted on November 4th and 5th of 2019.
The report, which is detailed in a separate story this week, found a series of issues relating to the clinic’s financial situation, among them possible fraudulent billing, no access to financial records by the IHS or clinic staff, repeated delinquent audits and overdrawn bank accounts.
Walker’s team appeared early Monday morning accompanied by a forensic computer examiner, an observer and a special agent from the FBI. The team proposed the Tribe allow them to image server data as needed. They also requested to interview TGB members and clinic staff on an individual basis.
After considerable debate among TGB members whether to comply with the investigation, TGB member Tweed Shuman made a motion to allow access to the server at the LCO Health Center and Tribal Government Accounting Offices and to authorize Chairman Louis Taylor to sign the Consent to Search Electronic Evidence document on behalf of the Tribe. The motion was seconded by Don Carley and passed with a vote of 3-0-3, with Gary “Little Guy” Clause voting with Shuman and Carley.
LCO Vice Chairwoman Lorraine Gouge, Secretary-Treasurer Michelle Beaudin and TGB member Glenda Barber all abstained from voting after the Tribe’s Attorney General, Kris Goodwill, urged the TGB not to grant the access to the servers. Goodwill stated there was time to review the subpoena before the TGB took the vote.
Following the vote, Chairman Taylor stated for the record, he was in favor of the motion to allow the federal agents access to the servers.