By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter
CHEHALIS – The former head of the Chehalis Tribal Housing Authority was sentenced yesterday to 30 days in jail and two years of supervised release following his conviction for collecting downpayment assistance from the authority knowing he didn’t qualify because he already owned a home.
Hector Ray Canales, Sr., 55, had pleaded guilty to conversion of tribal funds in May, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Washington.
At Monday’s sentencing hearing, U.S. District Judge Ronald B. Leighton in Tacoma said Canales had betrayed the trust of his tribe, according to office spokesperson Emily Langlie.
According to records filed in the case, Canales engaged in a “sham” transaction to transfer his existing ownership to a relative, so that he could collect $37,400 from the program which he used to pay for a second home in the Chehalis area.
Langlie stated that Canales used his position in the tribe and his knowledge of the internal fiscal controls to illegally collect the down payment funds. The fraud meant that other eligible Chehalis Tribal members did not get down payment assistance, Langlie stated.
Canales was the chairman of the board of the Chehalis Tribal Housing Authority.
The case was investigated by the Chehalis Tribal Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The judge ordered him to pay $37,400 in restitution. Canales has since repaid just over $24,000 to the tribe.