|The following story was written and reported by Brandon Ecoffey, Native Sun
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Brian Brown President of National Relief Charities indicted
Accused of embezzling money intended to help
By Brandon Ecoffey
Native Sun News Managing Editor
PORTLAND, Ore. — Brian Brown the president of National Relief Charities has been indicted and arrested for allegedly defrauding the organization of $4 million dollars.
National Relief Charities is an organization supposedly dedicated to aiding Native American communities on the plains and in the southwest. According to the company’s website the mission of the charity is, “To help Native American people improve the quality of their lives by providing opportunities for them to bring about positive changes in their communities."
The organization claims to have helped over 420,000 Native people last year alone and claims to send over 5 million pounds of goods to Native people each year.
Brown, 56, was arrested on the morning of the Oct. 20 at the Portland Airport where he was returning from a trip to Thailand and Japan according to Oregon TV station Fox12.
The indictment that was unsealed charges Brown with conspiracy to defraud the organization. The conspiracy charge significantly reduces the burden of proof upon which the federal government is required to meet in order to secure a conviction.
The indictment alleges that in 2005, when Brown relinquished his role as president of NRC, he established a non-profit group that he managed called Charity One, and began doing business as the American Indian Education Endowment Fund. He would then draw funds from NRC to his other organizations but instead of funding scholarships for Native students like he claimed they would do, kept the money along with other co-conspirators.
On NRC’s website it touts its effectiveness at recruiting individual donors for its charity effort. “NRC is blessed to have the support of half a million donors who care about American Indians and support our ongoing work. Some donors make many small donations repeatedly throughout the year. These add up to help create a significant impact on the reservations. Some donors give monthly, which helps us defray the cost of fundraising. Heritage Circle members bequeath legacy gifts to NRC to ensure that Native needs are met into the future. Other donors give to help cover the cost of transporting goods to the remote reservations we serve,” the site reads.
At his initial arraignment hearing he pleaded not guilty to all charges and was released under the conditions that he wears an electronic monitoring device and turn over his passport. His trial is set for Dec. 17.
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