Jicarilla Apache Nation president resigns

Noel Lyn Smith
Farmington Daily Times
The Daily Times

FARMINGTON — The president of the Jicarilla Apache Nation resigned late last week.

Levi Pesata resigned from office on Friday, citing personal reasons, according to a press release issued by the tribe.

The release states that Vice President Edward Velarde will serve as interim president.

During a special meeting in Dulce on Friday, the Jicarilla Apache Nation Legislative Council passed a resolution to hold a special election within 60 days to fill the vacancy.

The call for a special election and its time frame are in accordance to the tribe's constitution, according to the release.

"The legislative council looks forward to filling the vacancy as soon as possible to minimize any administrative and operational disruptions," the release states.

Members of the council stated in the release they want to move forward on developing better opportunities and improved governmental operations responsive for tribal members and the community.

Council members also thanked Pesata in the release for serving five terms in office and for his contributions to the tribe.

The release from the tribe states the legislative council will have its regular meetings this week.

A public relations officer for the tribe referred follow-up questions to Velarde, who could not be reached Monday.

Last year, a group of tribal members collected signatures on a petition that called to impeach Pesata, according to reports by the Rio Grande Sun.

The group called for Pesata's removal after a 2017 forensic audit revealed the tribe's former comptroller, Chad Eaton, embezzled more than $500,000 from the Apache Nugget Travel Center and Casino while working as general manager, the Rio Grande Sun reported.

The newspaper reported that Eaton left the general manager position in 2016 then was hired as comptroller by Pesata in 2017 and the legislative council fired Eaton last year.

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

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