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Navajo Nation judge accused of bribery, denies wrongdoing

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A Navajo Nation district court judge accused of bribery said Tuesday he is not guilty of any wrongdoing, The Daily Times in Farmington reported.

Kayenta Judicial District Court Judge Roy J. Tso Jr. was placed on administrative leave Oct. 10 by Chief Justice Herb Yazzie after the Office of the Chief Prosecutor launched an investigation into possible criminal conduct, The Daily Times said.

The prosecutor’s office alleges that Tso tried to bribe Ruby Benally, a prosecutor with the Shiprock Office of the Prosecutor, to dismiss criminal charges against his sister and niece, the paper reported.

Tso, who lives in Shiprock, said neither his sister nor his niece have been charged in the case and that he did not bribe Benally, The Daily Times said.

The prosecutor’s office launched its investigation after Tso’s sister and niece were arrested June 23 on suspicion of burglary and theft and were held in the Shiprock Detention Center, according to the paper.

In a Sept. 25 statement, Benally wrote that she received a text message to meet with another tribal prosecutor to talk “business,” and that during the meeting, she was told that Tso would pay $750 to have the charges dismissed against his sister and niece, The Daily Times said.

Tso claims he was concerned about his niece — who he said is mentally impaired and takes medication — and the treatment she could face from correctional staff, the paper reported.

“I was only there out of concern for her, making sure her medication is routine. It affects her behavior if she doesn’t take it,” Tso told The Daily Times.

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