Skip to main content
Press Release

Former Superintendent of Hopi Mission School Sentenced to 2 Years in Prison for Embezzlement of School Funds

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Arizona

     PHOENIX – This week, Thane Epefanio, 45, of Avondale, Ariz., was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Steven P. Logan to two years in prison for embezzling money from the Hopi Mission School located on the Hopi Reservation in Kykotsmovi, Ariz.  Epefanio had previously pleaded guilty to money laundering and wire fraud. 

     Epefanio served as the Superintendent and Administrator of the Hopi Mission School, a private, charitable school funded primarily with donations and through participation in government programs.  Beginning in 2012, Epefanio used his position and influence to embezzle school funds and also directed staff to provide him money to create the appearance that the funds were being used to operate the school.  Epefanio obtained almost $1 million to support his gambling habit and to pay for personal expenses. 

     The investigation in this case was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Social Security Administration, Inspector General Office of Investigation.  The prosecution was handled by Monica B. Edelstein and Natalie Huddleston, Assistant U.S. Attorneys.


CASE NUMBER:            CR-16-08241-PCT-SPL 

RELEASE NUMBER:    2018-060_Epefanio


# # #


For more information on the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Arizona, visit

Follow the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Arizona, on Twitter @USAO_AZ for the latest news.



Updated May 9, 2018

Financial Fraud
Public Corruption
Press Release Number: 2018-060_Epefanio / CR-16-08241-PCT-SPL