Former tribal council delegate faces sentencing

Forrmer Navajo Nation Council Delegate Lena Manheimer and former Legislative Branch employee Laura Calvin will be sentenced this week for allegedly abusing the discretionary fund

Noel Lyn Smith
Former Navajo Nation Council Delegate Lena Manheimer, left, leaves Window Rock District Court in Window Rock, Ariz., on Aug. 24.

FARMINGTON — Two defendants who pleaded no contest to allegations of misusing a financial assistance program once operated by the Navajo Nation Council are scheduled for sentencing this week.

A sentencing hearing is scheduled for 9 a.m. Tuesday in Window Rock District Court in Window Rock, Ariz., for former Navajo Nation Council Delegate Lena Manheimer.

Manheimer was charged in December 2013 with one count of conspiracy to commit bribery in official and political matters and six counts of bribery. In April 2015, she pleaded no contest to the conspiracy charge under the terms of a plea agreement.

At the time, she represented Ts'ah bii Kin (Inscription House) Chapter in Arizona and Naatsisaan (Navajo Mountain) Chapter in Arizona and Utah.

According to court documents, Manheimer did not accept responsibility for her actions until the eve of her scheduled trial.

The five charges of bribery will be dismissed with prejudice, according to the plea agreement.

According to the agreement, Manheimer will be sentenced to probation and community service if the Navajo Nation Special Prosecutor advises the court she provided assistance with the prosecution of related cases.

She could also be ordered to pay up to $12,650 in restitution, the plea agreement states.

Also scheduled to be sentenced this week is former Legislative Branch employee Laura Calvin. Her sentencing hearing is set for 9 a.m. Friday in Window Rock District Court.

Calvin worked in the Office of the Speaker as a financial adviser, according to court documents.

She was charged with six counts of conflicts of interest in 2014 and pleaded no contest to one count in January 2015.

Under the terms of her plea agreement, Calvin testifiedduring the March trial of former Delegate Mel R. Begay about how the financial assistance program operated.

Calvin could be sentenced to up to 90 days in jail, probation or community service. She also agreed to pay restitution for an amount determined by the court, according to the plea agreement.

If she is not sentenced to jail, she will receive probation for a period determined by the court.

Calvin and Manheimer were originally scheduled for sentencing on Aug. 24, but their hearings were pushed back.

That same day, 10 former delegates and one former employee were sentenced for abusing the financial assistance program.

Still facing sentencing are former council Speaker Lawrence T. Morgan and former Delegate George Arthur.

Morgan, who represented Iyanbito and Pinedale chapters, has a sentencing hearing scheduled at 1 p.m. Sept. 6.

A sentencing hearing has not been determined for Arthur, who represented Tiis Tsoh Sikaad (Burnham), Nenahnezad and San Juan chapters.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636.