FBI agents took a 48-year-old Flagstaff man into federal custody at FMC on Friday morning on charges stemming from an alleged theft of $130,000 in funds intended for a new Navajo Nation public radio station.

A warrant was issued for John Pegram Bittner on Thursday morning after he failed to appear before a federal judge in Phoenix the previous day on charges of embezzlement, wire tapping, theft and multiple other charges.

He is accused of using Navajo Nation funds to take vacations, to pay child support and to cover medical expenses, among other activities.

Flagstaff police found him in a wooded area next to a North Fourth Street condo complex on Thursday after a neighbor reported a man walking around with two deep gashes on his neck. A police report stated the man was found covered in blood. He told officers the wounds were partially intentional and partially accidental.

Police found a suicide note and a pair of bloody scissors in his condo, according to a report. A rope was also found hung from a balcony.

He is still at FMC and his wounds were described as non-life-threatening. FBI officials said they are working to have him transferred to a medical facility in Phoenix so he can appear before a U.S. Magistrate Judge as soon as he's been medically cleared. That could be as early as Monday.

According to recent news media reports, Bittner told tribal officials he was an FCC engineer with extensive experience in radio. He was authorized to start the station, but he never bought any equipment.

Eric Betz can be reached at 556-2250 or ebetz@azdailysun.com.


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