Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Preliminary Hearing To Be Set Next Month on Alleged Embezzler Tracey Avila of Robinson Rancheria.

A preliminary hearing is expected to be set next month for Robinson Rancheria’s tribal chair, who is alleged to have embezzled tens of thousands of dollars while she worked for another local tribe.

Following a federal investigation, Tracey Avila, 50, of Nice was arrested last September on a felony charge of grand theft, as Lake County News has reported.

She allegedly took more than $60,000 from Elem Colony of Clearlake Oaks while she worked as the tribe’s fiscal officer from February 2006 to September 2008, according to case documents.

Deputy District Attorney Rachel Abelson, who is prosecuting the case, said the discovery in the case is still being finalized, thus the delay in the proceedings.

She said the preliminary hearing is expected to be set at a hearing on May 22 in Judge Stephen Hedstrom’s Clearlake courtroom.

The case began after Elem conducted its own investigation and concluded that Avila had allegedly taken the funds.

In June 2009, the tribe’s general counsel sent a letter to Laura Yoshii, acting regional director for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Pacific Southwest Region 9, requesting an investigation into the alleged embezzlement.

Within two weeks U.S. EPA’s Grants Management Office opened the investigation, which later was handed to special agents with the EPA Office of the Inspector General and HUD's Office of the Inspector General, according to investigative documents.

If convicted, Avila could face a maximum three years in state prison, according to Abelson. Avila may end up serving her prison time in the Lake County Jail due to correctional realignment.

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