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Former Navajo housing executive, builder indicted

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GALLUP, N.M. (AP) – A former Navajo Housing Authority chief executive accused of accepting gaming chips from a construction company in exchange for $38 million worth of federal housing contracts and the firm’s owner have been indicted by a federal grand jury in Nevada.

U.S. Attorney in Nevada Greg Brower said 52-year-old Chester Carl of Gallup and 66-year-old William Aubrey of Mesquite, Nev., face charges of bribery and conspiracy to commit bribery.

Aubrey, owner of Lodge Builder, also was charged with two counts of embezzlement and theft from tribal organizations in the May 19 indictment that was unsealed May 27, Brower said.

Aubrey allegedly bribed Carl with $194,950 in casino gaming chips from June 2002 to November 2006 in exchange for favorable treatment for the construction company.

Aubrey and Carl appeared May 27 before a U.S. magistrate judge in Nevada and pleaded not guilty to the charges. They were released on personal recognizance bonds pending trial.

Lodge Builder sought federal contracts through a U.S. Housing and Urban Development grant program that funded development of low-income housing on the Navajo Nation.

The construction firm obtained several contracts signed by Carl totaling more than $38 million for the development of housing projects in Chilchinbeto and Shiprock and near Churchrock, the indictment said.

Aubrey also is accused of taking $2.2 million from the federal grant money awarded to his company to buy furs and jewelry, to gamble and to pay for thoroughbred racehorse training.

Aubrey faces up to 30 years and $1.25 million in fines, while Carl could be sentenced to up to 15 years in prison and $500,000 in fines.

If convicted, the government also seeks forfeiture of any properties that the defendants derived from proceeds of the crimes of up to $8.5 million.

Carl currently is director of tribal business development for Foresight Wind, a venture partner with Edison Mission Energy, to develop Aubrey Cliffs, a proposed wind farm on Navajo Nation land.

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