Spouse of Navajo Nation lawmaker remains in jail as trial opens

Delegate Mel R. Begay represents the Coyote Canyon, Mexican Springs, Naschitti, Tohatchi, Bahastl'a'a chapters on the Navajo Nation Council. Photo from Navajo Nation Council / Facebook

A trial against a Navajo Nation Council delegate who is accused of misusing tribal funds finally began on Wednesday.

Delegate Mel R. Begay allegedly steered more than $30,000 in discretionary funds to relatives, including his wife, The Farmington Daily-Times reported, and his children, Indian Country Today reported. Mitzie Begay has refused to answer questions about the case and remains in jail on a contempt of court charge.

Mel Begay was among dozens of current and former lawmakers and tribal employees who were first charged back in 2010. Most of those cases were dismissed or resolved through other means.

Some 16 cases were eventually refiled and 14 defendants reached plea agreements, the Associated Press reported. Begay's is the first of two that are going to trial.

The trial is expected to last two weeks, the AP said.

Get the Story:
Testimony centers on discretionary fund (The Farmington Daily-Times 3/17)
Delegate claims giving $33,000 to children was not a criminal act (The Navajo Times 3/17)
High court rules against delegate's requests (The Farmington Daily-Times 3/16)
Lack of jurors delays council delegate's trial (The Farmington Daily-Times 3/15)
Case Alleging Misuse Of Navajo Nation Funds Heads To Trial (AP 3/14)
Supreme Court: Delegate's wife to stay in jail (The Farmington Daily-Times 3/12)

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Wife of Navajo Nation lawmaker sent to jail on contempt charge (3/10)

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