The Main Stream

Feb 21, 2014 2:44 PM by Associated Press

Ex-Navajo lawmakers plead guilty in criminal cases

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) - Two former Navajo Nation lawmakers have pleaded guilty in a case that centers on the misuse of tribal funds.

Raymond Joe and Harry Williams Sr. entered their pleas this week to a single count of conspiracy to commit bribery. Prosecutors dropped the six counts of bribery each was facing in exchange.

The agreements represent the first in which tribal officials acknowledge they authorized payments to colleagues' families with the understanding their own families would benefit in return. The men say the scheme was an attempt to circumvent tribal law.

The plea agreements allow Joe and Williams to avoid jail time if they cooperate with prosecutors in similar cases. They also could be ordered to pay back tens of thousands of dollars.

Tribal Judge Carol Perry has approved the agreements.

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