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Criminal charges filed against ex-Navajo lawmaker

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. -- A former Navajo lawmaker has been charged with receiving kickbacks, submitting false information and conspiring with a colleague to funnel money to family members.

Prosecutors announced the filing of 24 charges against Ernest Yazzie Jr. on Tuesday. They represent the first criminal case brought by prosecutors who took over an investigation of the Tribal Council's use of discretionary funds in 2011.

Criminal complaints filed in tribal court allege that nearly one-third of the funds, about $95,000, allocated to Yazzie went to his wife and three children.

Yazzie is representing himself in the case. A call to a number listed for him in Sanders didn't go through.

Yazzie had defended the use of discretionary funds in a 2010 interview with The Associated Press, saying he didn't see anything wrong with helping his people.

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