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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of New Mexico

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Navajo Man from Arizona Pleads Guilty to Federal Assault Charges

Defendant Prosecuted as Part of Federal Initiative to Address the Epidemic Incidence of Violence Against Native Women

ALBUQUERQUE – Charleston Wauneka, 30, an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation who resides in St. Michaels, Ariz., pled guilty today in federal court in Albuquerque, N.M., to an assault charge.  Under the terms of his plea agreement, Wauneka will be sentenced to 21 months in prison followed by a term of supervised release to be determined by the court.

Wauneka was arrested in Aug. 2016, on an indictment charging him with assault resulting in serious bodily injury.  The indictment alleged that Wauneka committed the crime on Aug. 15, 2013, on the Navajo Reservation in McKinley County, N.M.

During today’s proceedings, Wauneka pled guilty to the indictment and admitted that on Aug. 15, 2013, he assaulted the victim by striking and kicking her, causing her to suffer serious bodily injury. More specifically, Wauneka admitted that his criminal conduct caused the victim to suffer fractured orbital bones around her left eye and hearing loss in her left ear.  A sentencing hearing has yet to be scheduled.

This case was investigated by the Window Rock office of the Navajo Nation Division of Public Safety and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sarah Mease.

This case was brought as part of 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 American 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.

Indian Country Law and Justice
Updated September 1, 2016