Woman sentenced for stealing charity funds at Kaibeto school

2013-05-10T05:00:00Z Woman sentenced for stealing charity funds at Kaibeto schoolERIC BETZ Sun Staff Reporter Arizona Daily Sun
May 10, 2013 5:00 am  • 

A Bureau of Indian Education employee has been sentenced to five years of supervised probation and ordered to pay back the $23,226 she stole from a charity fund intended to buy school supplies for needy kids.

Marcellina Tohonnie, 36, instead spent the money on trips to Las Vegas, clothes for her boyfriend, trips to the nail salon, car repairs and other personal expenses, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

She was sentenced late last month by U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark E. Aspey in federal court in Flagstaff.

The defendant was in charge of accepting and using donations to buy basic necessities like clothing and school supplies set aside for 47 kids enrolled in the Children Incorporated program. The international nonprofit group had been involved with the Kaibeto Boarding School for several decades, according to officials.

Kaibeto is about 40 miles south of Page on the Navajo Nation.

An official with the Department of the Interior who was involved in the investigation said that families grew upset when Tohonnie stopped dispensing the Walmart gift cards and checks that typically funded school supplies.

Tohonnie refused to cooperate with an official audit of the funds she oversaw and claimed certain files were missing. An Interior Department investigation examined her bank withdrawals between January and December of 2012 and found nearly $25,000 worth of personal expenses.

Children Incorporated decided to discontinue the program with the Kaibeto Boarding School as a result of the theft.

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