Jury Rejects Home Builder 's 'Not Guilty' Plea To Ripping Off HUD Grant Funds Targeted To Help Navajo Nation Develop Affordable Housing For Its Members
From the Office of the U.S. Attorney (Las Vegas, Nevada):
- Following a 13-day jury trial, a home builder was convicted by a jury  of embezzlement crimes for converting, misappropriating and stealing from a federal housing grant program during 2004, announced Daniel G. Bogden, United States Attorney for the District of Nevada.
William Aubrey, 69, of Mesquite, Nevada, was convicted of two counts of conversion of money and funds from a tribal organization, and is scheduled to be sentenced on Aug. 7, 2013, by U.S. District Judge Kent J. Dawson. Aubrey faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each count.
“The Navajo Nation counted on the monies stolen by the defendant to provide housing for its members,” said U.S. Attorney Bogden. “This defendant stole from the tribe and from the American people, and used the monies to finance an extravagant lifestyle.”
According to the court records and the evidence introduced at trial, the Navajo Nation is a federally recognized sovereign Indian Tribe whose borders encompass a large portion of Arizona and extend into New Mexico and Utah. The Navajo Housing Authority was an official Navajo Nation entity authorized to receive and administer federal housing funds which were awarded annually by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The Navajo Nation receives an average of $90 million from HUD annually in grant funds.
A Navajo Nation non-profit corporation, the Fort Defiance Housing Corporation, was responsible for the development of safe and affordable housing on the Navajo Nation lands. Fort Defiance was also a sub-grantee for the HUD grant funds.
Beginning in 1996 and continuing to 2004, Fort Defiance contracted with a private housing development company, Lodgebuilder, to develop the housing projects. Lodgebuilder is owned and operated by William Aubrey. Lodgebuilder and Aubrey managed several housing development projects for Fort Defiance from approximately 2000 to 2004.
HUD funds, which were supposed to be used to pay vendors, subcontractors and expenses at the housing developments, were converted by Aubrey for his own personal use and used for gambling, and other personal expenses.