News and Press Releases

Navajo Woman Pleads Guilty to Embezzling Money
Belonging to the Mescalero Apache Nation

December 10, 2013

ALBUQUERQUE – Iris Peterson, 65, an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation residing in Mescalero, N.M., pleaded guilty today in federal court in Las Cruces, N.M., to theft from an Indian Tribal Organization. 

Peterson entered a guilty plea to a felony information and admitted embezzling $8,695.00 in funds belonging to the Mescalero Apache Nation between Jan. 2007 and Dec. 2011.  During that time, Peterson was a supervisory social worker employed by the BIA Mescalero Social Services Program.  Peterson admitted cashing checks intended for juvenile clients who were receiving services from the Social Services Program and using the funds for her personal use.

Peterson entered her guilty plea pursuant to a plea agreement that requires her to pay restitution in the amount of $8,695.00.  Under the terms of the plea agreement, the United States will not oppose a sentence of probation if Peterson is ordered to pay restitution.  Peterson was released under pretrial supervision pending her sentencing hearing, which has yet to be scheduled.

This case was investigated by the Office of the Inspector General, U.S. Department of the Interior and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Novaline D. Wilson.

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