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Navajo-Hopi Observer | Flagstaff, Arizona

home : latest news : regional October 3, 2015

5/14/2013 10:17:00 AM
Bureau of Indian Education employee sentenced for stealing close to $25,000 from Kaibeto school
Marcellina Tohonnie receives five years of probation, must repay $23,226 to Kaibeto Boarding School
Navajo-Hopi Observer

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - A federal court judge gave Marcellina Tohonnie, 36, a Bureau of Indian Education employee, five years of probation April 23 for stealing charitable donations to children attending the Kaibeto Boarding School.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark Aspey also ordered Tohonnie to repay $23,226 in restitution to Children Incorporated - an international nonprofit organization assisting needy children in the U.S. and abroad.

The charges stem from a U.S. Department of the Interior, Office of Inspector General investigation of Tohonnie's embezzlement of Children Incorporated account funds, sponsoring 47 Native American students, grades kindergarten through eighth, at the Kaibeto Boarding School.

As the school's former Children Incorporated program coordinator, Tohonnie was entrusted with accepting and using donations to purchase clothing and school supplies for the children enrolled in the program. Instead, Tohonnie embezzled money from the Children Incorporated account to pay for personal expenses including clothing, salon visits, gifts, car repairs and travel to Las Vegas, Nev.

"This case is a reflection of the Inspector General's continued involvement in Indian Country and our dedication to ensure the integrity of all U.S. Department of the Interior programs," said Jack Rohmer, Special Agent-In-Charge.

Children Incorporated U.S. Program Director Renée Kube said the organization serves more than 20,000 children on an annual basis, and has assisted more than 250,000 children since 1964.

"We provide these resources because we believe passionately that children everywhere deserve education, hope and opportunity," she said. "We are deeply grateful for the dedication, time and efforts given by the U.S. Attorney's Office and the Office of the Inspector General."

Under a plea agreement with the U.S. Attorney's Office, Tohonnie pleaded guilty to one count of embezzlement and theft from Indian tribal organizations.

The U.S. Department of the Interior, Office of Inspector General investigated the case. Assistant United States Attorney Adam Zickerman, District of Arizona, Flagstaff, prosecuted the case.

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