Former Purchasing Agent for the Jicarilla Apache Nation Pleads Guilty to Federal Embezzlement Charge
ALBUQUERQUE – The former purchasing agent for the Jicarilla Apache Nation pled guilty yesterday in federal court in Albuquerque, N.M., to embezzling funds from the Jicarilla Apache Nation.
Vanessa Cohoe, now known as Vanessa Vicenti, 46, formerly of Dulce, N.M., was charged in an indictment filed on Dec. 17, 2015, with theft of funds belonging to the Jicarilla Apache Nation, an organization receiving more than $10,000 in federal funds. The indictment alleged that Cohoe committed the crime by embezzling approximately $23,039.23 from the Tribe between Dec. 2010 and May 2011. The indictment also charged Cohoe with embezzling more than $1000 in funds belonging to an Indian Tribal organization by using the Jicarilla Apache Nation’s credit card on eight separate occasions between Jan. 2011 and April 2011.
During yesterday’s proceedings, Cohoe pled guilty to the theft charge, and admitted embezzling funds belonging to the Jicarilla Apache Nation. The plea agreement states that Cohoe committed the crime while employed as the purchasing agent for the Jicarilla Apache Nation, a position she held from Feb. 2007 through June 2011. In that capacity, Cohoe had access to and use of the Tribe’s Sam’s Club credit card for authorized purchases. From Jan. 2010 through May 2011, Cohoe made unauthorized purchases using the Tribe’s credit card for gift cards, alcohol, groceries, clothes and cosmetics for herself and her family. Cohoe concealed her embezzlement scheme by intercepting the credit card bills and modifying them before submitting them to the billing department for payment. Cohoe was suspended from her position in May 2011 and was terminated after a full investigation in June 2011.
Under the terms of her plea agreement, Cohoe will be sentenced to a one to five year term of probation. Cohoe also will be required to pay $5,000 in restitution to the Tribe, the amount being the difference between the total unauthorized purchases and the amount that the Jicarilla Apache Nation has been reimbursed by its insurer. Cohoe will remain on conditions of release and under pretrial supervision pending her sentencing hearing which has yet to be scheduled.
This case was investigated by the Farmington office of the FBI. Assistant U.S. Attorney Kristopher N. Houghton is prosecuting the case.