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Ex-bookkeeper charged in embezzlement from Pomo Indians

The chairwoman of a Lake County Indian tribe has been charged with embezzling $61,000 from a neighboring tribe.

Robinson Rancheria Tribal Chairwoman Tracey Avila, 50, was booked Friday at the Lake County jail on a warrant issued on suspicion of grand theft. She is accused of embezzling the funds while working as a bookkeeper for the Elem Band of Pomo Indians between February 2006 and September 2008, said Lake County Deputy District Attorney Rachel Abelson.

Robinson Rancheria and its casino are near Upper Lake, north of Clear Lake. Elem is near Clearlake Oaks on the southwest shore of the lake.

Elem tribal officials discovered the alleged embezzlement in 2009, after Avila left her job, Abelson said. They wrote to federal agencies, asking for an investigation because the tribe did not have the resources to conduct one themselves, Abelson said.

Federal conducted the investigation and turned over the results to local prosecutors, she said.

Avila is accused of giving herself unauthorized pay raises, unauthorized benefits and taking pay advances she did not refund. She increased her pay from about $18 an hour to $37 an hour, Abelson said.

Avila, who was released form the county jail, could not be reached Thursday morning for comment.


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