Felony, misdemeanor charges filed against former president's daughter

Noel Lyn Smith
Farmington Daily Times
Karis Begaye

CROWNPOINT — Former Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye's daughter has been formally charged in connection with a drunken driving arrest in April near Flagstaff, Arizona.

Karis Begaye, 42, was charged on Jan. 16 in Flagstaff Justice Court with two counts of felony criminal damage and a felony count of endangerment, along with misdemeanor counts of DUI and extreme DUI, according to the complaint.

She had been working as legal counsel for her father's office when she was arrested and charged by the Arizona Department of Public Safety after the black 2016 Chevrolet Tahoe she was driving collided with a semi-truck in the northbound lane on Interstate 17 on April 22.

She told a state trooper at the time of the accident that she consumed two glasses of wine prior to driving. Troopers found a broken bottle of vodka lying on the asphalt at the scene and an open bottle of tequila inside the Tahoe, according to the police report.

Russell Begaye ended his presidency on Jan. 15. Court records show the charges against his daughter were filed the next day by the Coconino County Attorney's Office in Flagstaff, Arizona.

A pretrial conference is scheduled for Feb. 12 at 9 a.m. in Flagstaff Justice Court.

Her attorney, Bruce Griffen, had no comment about the case when reached this afternoon.

The complaint explains that the class 4 and class 5 felony charges for criminal damage are for defacing or damaging a 2016 black Chevrolet Tahoe, which is listed as property of the Navajo Nation Fleet Management, and for defacing and damaging a 2001 utility trailer owned by Ruan Transport Corp.

Specific amounts for damages were not listed in the complaint, but the amount for the Chevolet Tahoe is listed as more than $10,000.

The amount for the utility trailer is shown in the complaint as between $2,000 to $10,000.

Karis Begaye apologized on May 4 for the incident after news reports surfaced about her arrest. She was placed on administrative leave on May 7 by then Vice President Jonathan Nez, according to The Daily Times archives.

Her driving privileges for operating tribal vehicles was suspended temporarily in mid May by the tribe's Motor Vehicle Review Board and she resigned from the president's office in June, according to The Daily Times archives.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 or by email at nsmith@daily-times.com.