Ahead of an impeachment hearing, The chief of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians released three audit reports Tuesday. The reports touch on incidences of corruption and fraud.
The audits cover periods between October 2011 through September 2015. One audit of former Chief Michel Hicks showed more than $11,000 in personal charges to a tribal credit card. Former Vice Chief Larry Blythe had personal charges totaling more than $89,000 on a tribal credit card. An Executive Office Visa Card used for miscellaneous expenses: Items appearing personal in nature totaled $28,955.89. This includes apparel & accessories totaling $6,508.44 (purchases made to Macy’s, Nine West, Ralph Lauren, and other retail stores). Cash advances of $11,152. Spa & Salons $876.00.
The audits are part of an ongoing FBI investigation of the Tribal Council’s Qualla Housing program. The audit found problems with the Qualla Housing Authority include Poor recordkeeping; issues with documentation; unusual loan invoices/disbursements; questionable write-offs; risks for potential cash theft schemes; internal control risks.
Tribal Council started efforts to impeach Chief Patrick Lambert back in February stating he had improperly handled personnel matters. Lambert denies wrong doing. There will be an impeachment hearing on Monday, May 22nd conducted by Tribal Council.