Navajo tribal judge orders joint trial for 5 defendants in discretionary fund case


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FARMINGTON, New Mexico — A Navajo Nation judge has ruled that tribal council Speaker Johnny Naize and four current or former council delegates will stand trial together on bribery charges stemming from alleged improper use of a discretionary fund.

The Daily Times (http://bit.ly/1sXwPh0) reports that District Judge Carol Perry's ruling Tuesday grants a motion by the special prosecutor in the cases of Naize, Delegate David L. Tom and former delegates George Arthur, Leonard Teller and Ernest D. Yazzie Jr.

Each defendant is accused of providing money to family members from the council's discretionary fund and of developing a back-and-forth system to receive funding.

The discretionary fund was intended to allow delegates to help tribal members facing emergencies or financial hardship.

Perry says the court lacks funding to conduct separate trials for the defendants.

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