Friday, November 5, 2010

Apachito Faces Theft, Fraud, Forgery Charges

By John Larson

George Apachito has won re-election as Alamo’s Navajo Nation Council delegate, by defeating Tóhajiilee’s Lawrence R. Platero (993-840) in Tuesday’s election.
Apachito, former Alamo Chapter president and Alamo School Board president, will represent not only Alamo, but also Tóhajiilee and Ramah, since the Navajo Nation’s delegate number was reduced by referendum earlier this year from 88 to 24 members.
His victory comes on the heels of an announcement by Attorney General Louis Denetsosie that Apachito is facing criminal charges for his alleged misuse of discretionary funds. Apachito is not alone in the charges, however. A total of 76 additional council delegates are also charged for similar offenses. The charges come after several months of investigations.
According to a copyrighted article in the Navajo Times, on Wednesday, Oct. 24, the Window Rock District Court released copies of the 77 criminal complaints filed by Navajo Nation Special Prosecutor Alan Balaran against the delegates and President-elect Ben Shelly.
The Navajo Times story by reporter Marley Shebala said the release came four days after an announcement by Denetsosie that an unspecified number of people are facing criminal charges for their alleged misuse of discretionary funds.
Those named include Apachito, who is charged with conspiracy, fraud, forgery and theft involving $10,100 in discretionary funds.
Amounts reported among the 77 charged range from a few hundred dollars to over $279,000.
The 88 member council has regularly voted to award itself with the discretionary funds, the Navajo Times reported.
The investigation began in 2009 when the tribal council directed Denetsosie to name a special prosecutor to investigate the ethics of Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley. That investigation led the attorney general to start questioning the discretionary spending of the council members.
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