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Press Release

Zuni Man Pleads Guilty to Sexual Contact of a Minor

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

ALBUQUERQUE – Alexander M.M. Uballez, United States Attorney for the District of New Mexico, and Raul Bujanda, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Albuquerque Field Office, announced today that Phillip Edward Lahi, Sr. pleaded guilty to abusive sexual contact in Indian Country. Lahi Sr., 72, of Zuni, New Mexico, and an enrolled member of the Pueblo of Zuni, will remain in custody pending sentencing, which has not been scheduled.

According to his plea, sometime between Nov. 1, 2021, and December 1, 2021, Lahi Sr. engaged in abusive sexual contact with a minor while hugging her. The victim, identified as Jane Doe, who is also a member of Zuni Pueblo, was less than twelve years old at the time.  By the terms of the plea agreement, Lahi faces up to 8 years in prison and must register as a sex offender.

The Gallup Resident Agency of the FBI Albuquerque Field Office investigated this case with assistance from the Zuni Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney Brittany DuChaussee is prosecuting the case as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice (DOJ) to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse.  Led by United States Attorneys’ Offices and DOJ’s Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims.  For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit

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Updated January 5, 2024

Indian Country Law and Justice
Press Release Number: 24-10