Former Navajo Delegates Enter Guilty Pleas to Conspiracy
A system of conspiracy and bribery comes to a close on the Navajo Nation as former Navajo Nation Public Safety Committee Chairman Raymond Joe pleaded guilty to charges on February 18 according to an article reported by the Gallup Independent.
Joe’s plea agreement implicates Johnny Naize, Council Speaker, and four former delegates.
According to the Independent Joe and Harry Williams Sr., members of the 21st Navajo Nation Council, acknowledged they “exchanged benefits” with other delegates, “causing the disbursement of financial assistance funds to each other’s families.”
Carol Perry, Window Rock District Court Judge, accepted the plea agreements and signed the order Tuesday.
Joe and Williams have stated that they knew what they were doing was wrong.
According to The Farmington Daily Times, Joe was quoted in court documents as saying, “We exchanged benefits to each other in order to influence and control our exercise of discretion in causing the disbursements of financial assistance funds to each other and our families.” The court documents detail how the money was allocated from October 2007 to January 2009.
The Daily Times reports that both men will be sentenced to probation following sentencing agreements, while “the remaining complaints against them will be dismissed if the special prosecutor determines they are cooperating with the investigation.” Also in the plea agreements neither man is eligible to run for public office in this year’s election, and the tribe may request re-payment of the misused funds as part of the probation.
Naize, along with Lena Manheimer, were two of the names in the agreements. Both were charged with bribery and conspiracy in connection to misusing discretionary funds in December, and are scheduled for arraignment in March.
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