More delegates head to court on slush fund charges

By Marley Shebala
Navajo Times

WINDOW ROCK, Oct. 25, 2010

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Eleven more Navajo Nation Council Delegates were arraigned today on criminal charges related to a special probe of Council discretionary funds.

Special Prosecutor Alan Balaran and Chief Prosecutor Bernadine Martin have charged 40 of the Council's 88 delegates with criminal complaints involving theft, forgery, fraud and conspiracy in the Window Rock District Court since Oct. 21, including 12 who are on the Nov. 2 ballot.


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District Court Administrator Barbara Willeto said this morning that a complete list of individuals charged by Balaran and Martin would be available sometime this week.

Six more delegates are scheduled for arraignment Wednesday, Oct. 27, at 1 p.m. On Monday, Nov. 1, three delegates will be arraigned at 11 a.m. and two more delegates are scheduled for arraignment Nov. 3. On Nov. 8, two additional delegates are scheduled for arraignment.

Delegate Young Jeff Tom (Mariano Lake/Smith Lake) was the only one of the 11 arraigned today to not seek a continuance.

After listening to Perry read him his rights, the single charge of theft against him, and his possible sentence if found guilty, Tom pleaded not guilty and asked for a jury trial and court-appointed attorney.

Perry scheduled Tom's pre-trial hearing for Jan. 18, 2011.

After his arraignment, Tom said he wanted to ask for a "speedy" trial but figured he better wait until after he got an attorney.

"I just want a fair hearing," he emphasized. "They have to prove I'm guilty." The delegates who were arraigned today and asked for a continuance, which Perry granted, were: Harry Williams Sr. (Coalmine Canyon/T�h Nanees Diz�), Orlanda Smith-Hodge (Cornfields/Greasewood Springs/Klagetoh/Wide Ruins), Andy Ayze (Chinle), Jack Colorado (Bodaway-Gap/Cameron/Coppermine), Leonard Chee (Birdsprings/Leupp/Tolani Lake), Lena Manheimer (Navajo Mountain/Ts'ah Bii Kin), Tom LaPahe (Tachee/Blue Gap/Whippoorwill), Joe M. Lee (Chichiltah), Woody Lee (T�likan), Tim Goodluck (Houck/Lupton/Nahata Dziil), and Roy Laughter (Chilchinbeto/Kayenta).

The criminal charges facing Williams, Smith-Hodge, Ayze, Colorado, Chee, Manheimer, LaPahe, Lee and Laughter are unknown because after Perry granted them continuances, their complaints were not read into the record.

The Navajo Times has repeatedly requested in writing to the court for copies of the criminal complaints filed by the special prosecutor.

The court released five complaints, against Vice President Ben Shelly and Delegates Goodluck, Hope MacDonald-LoneTree (Coalmine Canyon/Tóh Nanees Dizí), David Rico (Pueblo Pintado/Torreon/Whitehorse Lake), and Peterson B. Yazzie (Naschitti/Tohatchi).

MacDonald-LoneTree, who was arraigned today, is charged with conspiracy and theft involving $12,200 in discretionary funds.

On Oct. 21, MacDonald-LoneTree declined to comment on the charges against her.

This morning, Goodluck, who is charged with theft, conspiracy, fraud and forgery involving $18,140 in discretionary funds, also offered a "no comment" on his charges, as did Ayze, Chee, Colorado, LaPahe, Woody Lee, Smith-Hodge, and Williams.

Shelly pleaded not guilty to charges of theft, conspiracy and fraud involving $8,850 in discretionary funds on Oct. 21.

On Oct. 21, Delegate David Rico pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy, theft and forgery involving $19,725 in discretionary funds.

Yazzie pleaded not guilty on Oct. 21 to his charges of theft, forgery, fraud and conspiracy involving $12,575 in discretionary funds.

Delegates Jerry Bodie (Sanostee), Roscoe Smith (Crystal/Red Lake/Sawmill), Tommy Tsosie (LeChee), Bobby Robbins Sr. (Coalmine Canyon/Tóh Nanees Dizí), Herman Morris (Naschitti/Tohatchi), and Lawrence Platero (T�hajiilee) are scheduled for arraignment Wednesday at 1 p.m.

Delegates Leonard Teller (Lukachukai/Tsaile/Wheatfields), Evelyn Acothley (Bodaway-Gap/Cameron/Coppermine), and the late Herman Daniels Sr. (Oljato) are scheduled for arraignment Nov. 1 at 11 a.m.

Daniels died April 3. An official in the special prosecutor's office said they are aware of it and will take the appropriate action concerning that complaint.

Delegates Larry Noble (Jeddito/Steamboat/Low Mountain) and Lorenzo Bedonie (Hardrock/Piñon) are scheduled for arraignment on Nov. 3 at 1 p.m.

And on Nov. 8, Delegates Danny Simpson (Huerfano) and Kee Allan Begay Jr. (Many Farms/Round Rock) will be arraigned.

Other delegates who were scheduled for arraignment on Oct. 21 but who did not appear because they had not been served were Rex Lee Jim (Rock Point), Leonard Anthony (Shiprock), Danny Simpson (Huerfano), and Davis Filfred (Mexican Water/Aneth/Red Mesa).

Acothley, Bedonie, Chee, Filfred, MacDonald-LoneTree, Platero, Simpson, Teller, Tom and Yazzie are all running for re-election to the Council of 24, along with Harry Claw (Chinle) and Amos Johnson (Forest Lake/K�ts'��l�/Ts� Ch'�zh�), who were charged and appeared before Perry on Oct. 21.

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