BLUEFIELD, WV (WVNS) — A 37-year-old Bluefield man pleaded guilty to a federal fraud crime.

37-year-old Matthew Huffman, of Bluefield, West Virginia, pleaded guilty to theft or embezzlement in connection to healthcare services. He confessed to stealing over $45,000 from the Southern Highlands Community Mental Health Center when he was employed as its chief substance use disorder officer.

According to court statements and documents, Huffman embezzled money from Southern Highlands that included over $5,000 it received from the Comprehensive Opioid, Stimulant, and Substance Use Program between October 2022 and January 2023.

Southern Highlands is a non-profit medical treatment center which offers many services that include addiction treatment. Grants distributed by Comprehensive Opioid, Stimulant, and Substance Use Program to help treat and support people who are affected by illicit substance use and misuse.

Huffman admitted to forging signatures needed to approve COSSUP grants and other funds, as well as using names of patients and consumers that no longer received services from Southern Highlands on the forms. He then admitted to embezzling the funds for his own gain, including using the funds to pay his utility bills, vehicle loan payments, purchasing gift cards, and purchasing prepaid debit cards.

Huffman’s sentencing is scheduled for February 5, 2024, faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release, a $250,000 fine, and he owes $45,258.51 in restitution.

United States Attorney Will Thompson made the announcement and praised the Mercer County Sheriff’s Department for their work on the investigation.