GALLUP, N.M. — The Navajo Nation has filed new criminal complaints against its former top financial officer, accusing her of misrepresenting information on a company hired to do rapid COVID-19 testing on the reservation.
The complaints filed Friday in tribal court allege that Pearline Kirk, the former Navajo Nation controller, violated tribal law in advising the government to hire Agile Technologies Group LLC based on a recommendation from Kirk’s longtime mentor and confidant.
The charges include obtaining a signature by deception, paying or receiving Navajo Nation funds for services not rendered, and falsification, the tribe’s Department of Justice said in a news release. The department did not respond to an email requesting a copy of the latest complaints.
Kirk’s attorney, David Jordan, said Monday he has not seen the court documents and declined to comment.
The company wasn’t qualified but received more than $3 million for pandemic-related services, including testing for about 110 employees in the controller’s office, the tribes’ Justice Department alleged. The funding came from the Navajo Nation’s share of federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act money.
The Navajo Nation Council voted in May to remove Kirk from the office she held since early 2017. The action came a week after tribal prosecutors filed similar complaints against Kirk but dismissed them in late November ahead of a scheduled jury trial.
Jordan has maintained that Kirk did nothing wrong and was protecting her employees who were deemed essential workers, the Farmington Daily Times reported.
Although testing was available through the federal Indian Health Service, results were delayed, Jordan told reporters during a news conference Friday. He said Kirk suggested that employees look into Agile Technologies, but she didn’t sign the request for emergency procurement or the contract herself, Jordan said.