Nenahnezad, N.M., Man Pleads Guilty
to Federal Arson Charge
Defendant Prosecuted as Part of Federal Initiative to Address
the Epidemic Incidence of Violence Against Native Women
ALBUQUERQUE – Gregory Bitsilly, 28, an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation who resides in Nenahnezad, N.M., pleaded guilty this morning to an indictment charging him with arson under a plea agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Bitsilly was arrested in March 2014, on a criminal complaint charging him with arson. He was indicted on that same charge in April 2014. According to court filings, Bitsilly set fire to the residence he shared with his wife and children on March 24, 2014, because his wife was attempting to leave him for being physically abusive. The residence and its contents were a total loss.
During today’s proceedings, Bitsilly admitted willfully and maliciously setting fire to the home he resided in with his wife and children on March 24, 2014.
Under the terms of his plea agreement, Bitsilly will be sentenced to a federal prison term within the range of 24 to 40 months followed by a term of supervised release to be determined by the court. Bitsilly has been in federal custody since his arrest and remains detained pending his sentencing hearing, which has yet to be scheduled.
This case was investigated by the Farmington office of the FBI and the Shiprock Division of the Navajo Nation Division of Public Safety and is being prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney David Adams. It was brought pursuant to the Tribal Special Assistant U.S. Attorney (Tribal SAUSA) Pilot Project in the District of New Mexico which is sponsored by the Justice Department’s Office on Violence Against Women under a grant administered by the Pueblo of Laguna. The Tribal SAUSA Pilot Project seeks to train tribal prosecutors in federal law, procedure and investigative techniques to increase the likelihood that every viable violent offense against Native women is prosecuted in either federal court or tribal court, or both. The Tribal SAUSA Pilot Project was largely driven by input gathered from annual tribal consultations on violence against women, and is another step in the Justice Department's on-going efforts to increase engagement, coordination and action on public safety in tribal communities.