Navajo Nation council speakers charged with misuse of funds

Print More

Four former and current speakers of the Navajo Nation Tribal Council are being charged with misusing funding that was supposed to provide emergency and hardship assistance to tribal members, The Daily Times in Farmington reported on Thursday.

According to the story by Noel Lyn Smith:

Speaker Johnny Naize was charged with 10 counts of bribery and one count of conspiracy, according to criminal complaints the tribe’s special prosecutor filed Tuesday in Window Rock District Court in Window Rock, Ariz.

Former speaker Lawrence T. Morgan and former delegates George Arthur and Lena Manheimer were each charged with six counts of bribery and one count of conspiracy.

The criminal complaints accuse the four of misusing $185,950 in discretionary funds.

The issue isn’t new. Rather, investigations stem from criminal charges former special prosecutor Alan Balaran filed in October 2010. According to the story, Balaran had filed criminal charges against 77 of the council’s 88 delegates.

The new investigation — conducted by attorneys hired by the Special Division of the Window Rock District Court — has led to additional criminal charges against former and current delegates, tribal officials and Legislative Branch personnel.

To read the entire story and read the complaints, click here.

And if Balaran’s name rings a bell, that’s because during the George W. Bush administration he investigated the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Indian trust fund.

In 2004, Balaran resigned, alleging that “the government had routinely allowed energy companies to shortchange Indians on royalties from oil, gas, timber and other leases on Indian land.” According to a 2004 story in The New York Times:

Judge Royce C. Lamberth of Federal District Court here (sic) appointed Mr. Balaran in 1999 as part of a class-action lawsuit filed by Elouise Cobell, a banker and Blackfoot Indian from Montana, and more than 300,000 other Indians. They accused the government of cheating them out of as much as $137.5 billion over the past century.

In a letter sent to Judge Lamberth on Monday, but made public on Tuesday, Mr. Balaran said the agency had sought to delay the case by filing frivolous motions, including one requesting that he be disqualified from his duties because of bias.

Leave a Reply