Fraud charges have been laid on a First Nation that’s been plagued with political infighting.

Following an RCMP economic crime unit investigation, former Fond du Lac chief Napoleon Mercredi is charged with fraud over $5,000, theft of over $5,000, and breach of trust by a public official.

The case went before the court in Fond du Lac in late August.

Lead investigator Sergeant Hugh Gordon said this relates to complaints of misappropriation of band and Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC) funds, with the concerns brought forward around the same time in June of 2012.

“The nature of the complaint was, I guess, a misappropriation of both band funds and department funds over the two-year tenure of Mr. Mercredi while he was chief,” Gordon said.

AANDC allots a certain quantity of money for specific programs and “had noticed a certain amount of dollars going into one of those programs that wasn’t spent according to their guidelines,” he said.

When asked to estimate how much money was misappropriated, Gordon said “it is in the hundreds of thousands, but as to which amount is going to ultimately be the correct amount will have to be decided by a court.” He would go no further, saying the value is somewhere between $5,000 and $1 million.

That value includes money that was at risk, or “had the potential of being misappropriated” but was not necessarily money that went missing.

The investigation by Gordon’s branch has concluded, and he said the value both the RCMP and the Crown prosecutor have come up with is something they are comfortable they can defend in court.

Gordon acknowledged that as chief, Mercredi did have the authority to access band accounts.

“He was a decision-maker and was expected to be that in a number of these instances. The question will just simply come down to, which transactions or which spending he was entitled to and those that he was not. Those that he had authority to use in the way that he used and those that he did not,” Gordon said.

Mercredi responded to the allegations by phone, saying he felt singled out by his accusers, and that the RCMP was doing its job in response to the complaints.

He said he feels there are others who should be named in the charges.

Gordon said no one else is being considered to be charged and that the investigation is complete, adding that he thinks “the evidence on that will present itself quite clearly in court.”

Mercredi says to him, theft is taking money without permission – and that never happened.

“I don’t have any stressses over these charges or anything like that,” he said.

There’s an upcoming election on Fond du Lac, Mercredi said, and he’ll be running for chief.

Nothing in the election act forbids that, he said, because he is charged and not convicted.

The case will return to court on September 24.