Abenaki chief denies embezzlement charges

St. Albans, Vermont (AP) June 2012

The former leader of a tribe in Vermont has pleaded not guilty to charges that she embezzled $35,000 from the tribe.

Police accuse 44-year-old April St. Francis Merrill, the former chief of the Abenaki Missisquoi tribe, of stealing the money through ATM withdrawals and for grocery shopping, flower purchases and the installation of a deck on her home.

WPTZ (http://bit.ly/OlFt1W) reports that police said that the money for the deck came from a Christmas charity fund set up to benefit children.

Franklin County State’s Attorney Jim Hughes says there were many things purchased that never went to the party, and were alleged to have gone to her.

Last year, Merrill was accused of exploiting an elderly man in her care but those charges were later dropped.