WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. — Attorney General Ethel Branch announced May 23 that former ToˊNaneesˊDizi Chapter Executive Manager, Priscilla Littlefoot, has been charged by the Navajo Nation Department of Justice in 86 complaints, all relating to a long running scheme wherein she abused her position to divert chapter funds for her own personal use.
“For too long these types of crimes against the Navajo Nation have gone unprosecuted,” Branch said. “The Nation as a whole is the victim of these crimes, and our communities have grown sick of this type of abuse going unchecked. My office will continue to prioritize these cases to hold all tribal officials, regardless of their position, accountable for their actions and to ensure that theft of funds meant to benefit the Navajo people does not continue.”
In her position as executive manager for the ToˊNaneesˊDizi Chapter, Littlefoot had the responsibility to ensure that only legitimate expenses and services be paid from the chapter account. The complaints allege that Littlefoot committed multiple acts of fraud, theft and falsification over the course of several years by using her signing authority as the chapter’s executive manager to direct funds to herself and her family, take unauthorized reimbursements that she was not entitled to and forge documents to try to conceal her theft.
In one instance, it is alleged Littlefoot authorized 11 payroll checks to herself on the same day for a total of $15,106.74. In total, the Navajo Nation is seeking repayment from Littlefoot in the amount of $1,059,896.00 for all funds allegedly diverted over the course of her scheme.
These funds largely came from the chapter’s tax revenue and should have gone to serve the people of the ToˊNaneesˊDizi Chapter for the operation and maintenance of their land claims trust, grazing operations, youth funds, chapter stipend fund, scholarship funds, the veteran’s fund, their emergency fund, and the Navajo Nation capital improvement fund.
“Financial fraud and abuse betrays the traditional law right and freedom of the Diné people to have leaders who carry out their duties and responsibilities in a moral and legal manner so as to represent the Diné people and our government with trust and confidence,” Branch said.
The attorney general’s office explained that a criminal complaint 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 that establishes guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The investigation preceding the filing of the complaints was conducted by the Navajo Nation Office of the auditor general and the Navajo Nation White Collar Crime Unit.
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