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Office of the United States Attorney, John S. Leonardo

District of Arizona



May 9, 2013                                                                                                                                                                                          

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Bureau of Indian Education Employee Sentenced for Stealing Charity Funds Provided for Children Attending the Kaibeto Boarding School

            FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. –Marcellina Tohonnie, 36, a Bureau of Indian Education employee, was sentenced on April 23, 2013 by U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark Aspey in federal court in Flagstaff, AZ, for stealing charitable donations to children attending the Kaibeto Boarding School.  She received five years of supervised probation and was ordered 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 8th, at the Kaibeto Boarding School. As the school’s former Children Incorporated program coordinator, Tohonnie was entrusted with accepting and using donations to purchase basic necessities (e.g. clothing, school supplies, etc.) for the children enrolled in the program. Instead, Tohonnie embezzled approximately $25,000 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 insure 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, “Children Incorporated serves over 20,000 children on an annual basis, and has assisted more than 250,000 children since our founding in 1964.  We provide these resources because we believe passionately that children everywhere deserve education, hope and opportunity. 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 18 USC '1163, embezzlement and theft from Indian tribal organizations.

            The investigation in this case was conducted by the U.S. Department of the Interior, Office of Inspector General.  This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Adam Zickerman, District of Arizona, Flagstaff.

CASE NUMBER:            13mj4071                       
RELEASE NUMBER:     2013-038_ Tohonnie


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