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Justice News

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

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Navajo Man Arraigned on Indictment Charging him with Assaulting a Federally Commissioned Tribal Officer

ALBUQUERQUE – Abner Joe, 54, an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation who resides in Shiprock, N.M., was arraigned today in federal court in Albuquerque, N.M., on an indictment charging him with assaulting a federal officer.  Joe entered a not guilty plea to the indictment and was released pending trial to a halfway house and will be under pretrial supervision and other conditions of release.

Joe was arrested on Aug. 10, 2016, on a criminal complaint charging him with assaulting a federal officer.  According to the complaint, Joe allegedly assaulted an officer of the Navajo Nation Division of Public Safety on Aug. 4, 2016, by spitting on her and threatening her with a hammer and a wooden board.  At the time of the alleged assault, the tribal officer was commissioned as a Special Law Enforcement Officer by the BIA’s Office of Justice Services.

Joe was indicted on Aug. 23, 2016, and charged with assault on a federal officer with a dangerous weapon and assault involving physical contact.  The indictment alleged that Joe committed the crimes on Aug. 4, 2016, on the Navajo Indian Reservation in San Juan County, N.M.

If convicted of the crimes charged in the indictment, Joe faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison.  Charges in complaints and indictments are merely accusations.  All criminal defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

This case was investigated by the Farmington office of the FBI and the Shiprock office of the Navajo Nation Division of Public Safety.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Murphy is prosecuting the case.

Indian Country Law and Justice
Updated September 1, 2016