WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. — Navajo Nation Attorney General Ethel Branch announced April 6 that former K’ai’bii’to’ Chapter Accounts Maintenance Specialist Berniece Pinto-Denetdeal has been criminally charged with 28 counts of forgery and 34 counts of fraud against the Navajo Nation.
Pinto-Denetdeal is alleged to have used her position as an accounts maintenance specialist to facilitate her scheme from as early as April 14, 2016 to Feb. 23, 2017.
Pinto-Denetdeal is alleged to have forged signatures of other K’ai’bii’to’ Chapter officials to issue checks to herself . In order to conceal her actions, she falsely recorded information in the chapter’s accounting software. The total amount alleged to have been taken is approximately $32,559.23. The Navajo Nation is seeking restitution in the full amount.
Pinto-Denetdeal will be summoned by the Tuba City District Court for arraignment at a later date. The investigation preceding the charging of Pinto-Denetdeal was conducted by the Navajo Nation Office of the Auditor General, the Navajo Nation Police Department Tuba City District and the Navajo Nation White Collar Crime Unit.
Pinto-Denetdeal is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a Court of law.
“We will continue to prosecute these cases where Navajo Nation employees abuse their authority and violate the public trust by stealing moneys intended to benefit the Navajo people,” Branch said. “This is an extremely high priority for this administration because we have so few governmental funds available to benefit our local communities, and so each dollar is precious and should be utilized to provide services to our people who so greatly need the help of their Chapters and the Navajo Nation.”
To further protect against white collar crimes, Attorney General Branch and Chief Prosecutor Lee, in collaboration with the Director of the Ethics and Rules Office and the Auditor General, among others, formed the Navajo Nation Public Corruption Taskforce. Controller Pearline Kirk also launched a Navajo Nation Fraud Hotline to accept tips and complaints about waste, fraud, and abuse of Navajo Nation programs. The Hotline is available at 1-844-747-2767 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Information provided by the Navajo Nation Office of the Attorney General