A federal grand jury in southern Arizona has indicted a Tucson man and woman for allegedly conspiring to steal millions of dollars from a federally funded nonprofit tribal health care company.
The indictment, which was released on Monday, claims that Kevin McKenzie, the chief operating officer of Apache Behavior Health Services, embezzled millions of dollars from the business, which was established under the statutes of the White Mountain Apache Tribe.
Prosecutors believe McKenzie, 47, funneled $15 million to himself through a backdoor financial scam through another charity set up to aid Apache kids. Corina L. Martinez, 41, the sister of McKenzie’s longstanding domestic partner, was also implicated in the 40-count indictment.
The accusations include wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering, in addition to conspiracy to embezzle and embezzlement.
According to defense counsel Louis Fidel, McKenzie “strongly denies the allegations against him, and we intend to vigorously defend the case.” McKenzie’s efforts on the reservation, he added, have benefited many indigenous individuals who had previously been underserved.
Martinez “has spent many years providing behavioral health services to those in need,” according to her attorney, Joshua Hamilton. “We will vigorously defend Ms. Martinez in this matter and protect her reputation in the behavioral health community.”
On Friday, the White Mountain Apache Tribe’s office phones went unanswered.
Martinez was scheduled to appear in U.S. District Court in Tucson on January 5 and McKenzie on January 12.
The case appears to be unrelated to widespread Medicaid schemes that have defrauded the state of Arizona of hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funds. Thousands of Native Americans who went from reservations and even other states to seek treatment for alcohol and drug addictions at Phoenix area rehabilitation centers were frequently evicted due to billing scams.
In those cases, false reimbursement invoices were largely submitted through the American Indian Health Program, a Medicaid health plan that lets providers bill directly for reimbursement of services provided to Native Americans and Alaska Natives.