Woman accused of embezzlement responds to charges

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Woman accused of embezzlement responds to charges

Post by Admin on Sat Jul 30, 2016 11:47 pm

A woman accused of embezzling funds from a tribal nonprofit said the court filings are a political retaliation by the executive office of the Cherokee Nation.

Cherokee Nation special prosecutor A. Diane Hammons filed nine counts of embezzlement against former Cherokee Nation Foundation Director Kimberlie Gilliland, 46. A separate civil filing demands Gilliland pay actual and punitive damages.

Gilliland responded to Phoenix requests for comment at 9:52 p.m. Thursday.

"The only basis for this action by the Cherokee Nation is because I supported a candidate other than Bill John Baker in past elections," Gilliland said in a statement.

Gilliland was the director of the Cherokee Nation Foundation from 2009, when she was appointed by Principal Chief Bill John Baker, up until 2013, according to court documents. The Foundation, a nonprofit, receives at least partial funding from the nation and Cherokee Nation Businesses.

"I can only assume that because these actions were filed in tribal court that the FBI and federal investigators have rejected these claims for what they are, which is a frivolous attack on a private citizen who has done nothing wrong," Gilliland said in her statement.

Hammons alleges in her court filings that Gilliland, who was Bacone College's director of development up until this week, allegedly used funds from the Foundation to pay for personal effects and adventures, including California vacations, computers, food, a Tulsa parking ticket and an online master’s degree.

Gilliland, a Cherokee citizen, states she will file a "vigorous countersuit" against the Cherokee Nation for allegedly slandering her.

Cherokee Nation Attorney General Todd Hembree, who appointed Hammons as prosecutor, states it is his duty “to safeguard the assets of the Cherokee Nation.”

“During this investigation, we uncovered fraud and corruption that cannot, and will not, be tolerated in our organization,” Hembree said in a statement.

Accompanying the criminal charges is a civil suit filed by Ralph Keen Jr., a lawyer representing the Foundation. The Foundation is seeking repayment from Gilliland of $232,000 in addition to punitive damages, court documents state.

The Cherokee Nation Foundation’s primary goal is providing higher education opportunities for Cherokee students. The foundation’s bylaws state no part of the net earnings of the corporation are to benefit any private member or individual, Keen states in the civil suit.

Gilliland stated that the court filings are baseless. She also stated she is proud of her work at the Foundation.

She is ordered to appear Aug. 12 in Cherokee Nation District Court for arraignment.

Reach Harrison Grimwood at (918) 684-2926 or harrison.grimwood@muskogeephoenix.com.


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