WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. — Attorney General Ethel Branch announced March 26 that former ToˊNaneesˊDizi (Tuba City) Chapter Executive Manager Priscilla Littlefoot pleaded no contest to 18 counts of theft from the Navajo Nation.
Branch said the charges stemmed from a long running scheme where Littlefoot abused her position to divert chapter funds for her own personal use.
“Previously this type of white collar crime against the Navajo Nation would go unprosecuted for far too long because of the cost and complexity of the prosecution,” Branch said. “But not under the Begaye-Nez administration. The Nation and all Navajo people were the victims here, and our communities will no longer stand idly by as tribal officials enrich themselves by stealing tribal funds. My office will continue to prioritize these cases and hold all tribal officials accountable, regardless of their position.” continued Branch.
To further protect the Nation from 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, as well as other key divisions and offices of the Nation, have formed the Navajo Nation Public Corruption Taskforce. To increase protections to the Nation, Controller Pearline Kirk recently launched the Navajo Nation Fraud Hotline, which accepts tips and complaints from all sources about waste, fraud and abuse of Navajo Nation programs at 1-844-747-2767 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
According to Branch, Littlefoot used her signature authority as the chapter’s executive manager to direct funds to herself and her family, take unauthorized reimbursements, and forge documents to conceal her theft. In one instance, Littlefoot allegedly authorized 11 payroll checks to herself on one day for a total of $15,106.74. 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.
The 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, Veteran’s Fund, Emergency Fund and the Navajo Nation Capital Improvement Fund.
Littlefoot will be sentenced at a date following the completion of a presentence report. Under the Navajo Nation Rules of Criminal Procedure, a plea of no contest is treated the same as a guilty plea for sentencing purposes. The investigation preceding the plea agreement was conducted by the Navajo Nation Office of the Auditor General and the Navajo Nation White Collar Crime Unit.
Information provided by the Navajo Nation