August 17, 1997 in Nation/World

Prosecutor To Look Into Navajo Leader’s Expenses Hale Accused Of Running Up Undocumented Credit Card Charges

Associated Press

A special prosecutor will investigate whether Navajo Nation President Albert Hale misused a tribal credit card for his personal expenses, The Arizona Republic reported Saturday.

A panel of three tribal judges on Friday appointed Chris Smith, a lawyer from Santa Fe, N.M., to investigate Hale, the newspaper said. Smith has served as a special counsel in several New Mexico cases.

A news release from Hale’s office said Smith had not been formally appointed but was the panel’s top choice for the special prosecutor’s job. The panel scheduled another hearing for Friday to appoint Smith formally, Hale’s statement said.

The investigation would focus on Hale’s use of a Navajo Nation credit card in 1995 and 1996, when he ran up thousands of dollars in undocumented charges.

Hale and his aides have submitted duplicate receipts for about $25,000 worth of charges, leaving about $8,000 in dispute by the beginning of this month.

As reimbursement, the tribe has been docking Hale’s paycheck by about $750 every two weeks. He is paid $55,000 a year.

Hale has said accusations of misconduct were politically motivated.

The issue arose last year after an audit showed he spent $147,928 on travel over 13-1/2 months.

The audit was requested after Hale became embroiled in a marital dispute with his wife and allegations he’d had an affair with a tribal employee.

© Copyright 1997 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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