PHOENIX, Ariz. - Gary Yoyokie, 38, an enrolled member of the Hopi Indian Tribe, was arraigned last Wednesday on a 32-count federal indictment charging Embezzlement from a Tribal Organization. The indictment alleges that between April 12 and June 29, 2008, Yoyokie fraudulently obtained a credit card linked to the Hopi Economic Development Corporation, a commercial entity belonging to the Hopi Indian Tribe, and charged $40,000 to the Hopi Cultural Center for his personal expenditures, including visits to several casinos in Arizona and Nevada. At the time of the alleged offense Yoyokie was employed by the Hopi Cultural Center, a subsidiary of the Hopi Economic Development Corporation.
"This defendant was employed and trusted by the Hopi Tribe to help provide economic opportunities for his people. Instead, he violated that trust in a scheme to enrich himself," said U.S. Attorney Dennis K. Burke. "We and our partners at the FBI will continue to prosecute public corruption and self-dealing at any level of government."
Nathan Gray, FBI Special Agent in Charge, Phoenix Division, added, "The FBI and the U.S. Attorney's Office are committed to upholding the law within American Indian communities in Arizona. It is vital to hold those accountable who choose to embezzle money from Tribal entities. This type of alleged activity directly effects the economic development of a community."
A conviction for Embezzlement and Theft from Indian Tribal Organization carries a maximum penalty of five years, a $250,000 fine, or both. In determining an actual sentence, Judge David Campbell will consult the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, which provide appropriate sentencing ranges. The judge, however, is not bound by those guidelines in determining a sentence.
An indictment is simply the method by which a person is charged with criminal activity and raises no inference of guilt. An individual is presumed innocent until competent evidence is presented to a jury that establishes guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
The investigation preceding the indictment was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The prosecution is being handled by Kevin M. Rapp, Assistant U.S. Attorney, District of Arizona, Phoenix.