Aztec woman charged with embezzling $80K

Navajo Times staff report

GALLUP, Oct. 24, 2013

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FARMINGTON -- On Oct. 4, deputies of the San Juan County Sheriff's Office were dispatched to the New Life Worship Church in Farmington.

They were asked to contact the senior pastor there in reference to embezzlement from the institution, according to a news release from the sheriff's office.

Deputies learned that 66-year-old Anita Johnston of Aztec, N.M., the woman contracted to do the bookkeeping services, had embezzled approximately $80,000 since 2006.

The sheriff's office's financial crimes detective continued the investigation and learned Johnston had previously pled guilty to fraud in 2002, embezzlement in 2002, and embezzlement in 2010.

On Oct. 15, detectives secured and executed a search warrant at Johnston's home office and seized documents supporting the current case.

Johnston was present and admitted to the crime stating she "has no excuse for what she did."

Johnston was arrested and booked into the San Juan County Detention Center on the charge of embezzlement over $20,000, a 2nd degree felony.

She is being held on a $30,000 cash bond.




Whippoorwill man gets 46 months for assaulting officer

A Whippoorwill man, Donovan Eric Williams, 24, Monday pleaded guilty in federal district court in Albuquerque to an indictment charging him with assaulting a federal officer.

He faces almost four years in federal prison.

Williams was arrested on April 24 and charged assault with a dangerous weapon.

According to the complaint, Williams assaulted a sergeant of the Navajo Nation Division of Public Safety by deliberately veering his vehicle into her police vehicle on March 21 near Church Rock, N.M.

Williams was subsequently indicted and charged with assaulting a federal officer who was engaged in the performance of her official duties because the tribal officer possessed a Special Law Enforcement Commission from the BIA at the time of the assault.

In his plea agreement, Williams acknowledged that, at the time of the assault, he was being pursued by a tribal officer, who was attempting to pull his vehicle over and the federal officer was approaching him from the opposite direction.

Williams admitted intentionally striking the federal officer's vehicle even though the officer had pulled her marked police vehicle off to the side of the road to avoid a collision.

Williams subsequently learned that the officer was commissioned as a federal law enforcement officer at the time of the assault.

Under the terms of his plea agreement, Williams will be sentenced to 46 months in prison followed by a term of supervised release to be determined by the court.

Williams is in federal custody and will remain detained pending his sentencing hearing, which has yet to be scheduled.

Head-on kills young Navajo couple

A Navajo couple from Gallup, newly married, died in a head-on collision Sunday outside of Cortez, Colo.

Jeremy Joe, 20, and Denise Joe, 22, died at the scene.

The driver of the other vehicle, Jessica Nephi, 26, of Towaoc, Colo., also died in the accident.

According to media accounts of the accident, Nephi was driving south on U.S. 160 about 3:15 p.m. when she veered into the other lane and sideswiped a trailer before colliding head-on into the car driven by Denise Joe.

Colorado state police said that the accident may have been caused when Nephi was distracted by a two-year-old in the vehicle who was unrestrained.

The two-year-old as well as a 20-year-old passenger in the Nephi vehicle were taken to a nearby hospital where they were still being treated three days later for serious injuries.

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