Ex-county health boss pleads not guilty to fraud, theft

This undated photo provided by Navajo County, Arizona, shows Jeffrey Lee, who has been placed on leave after being indicted Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2020, on charges of fraud, misuse of public funds and theft.

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — The former health director for Navajo County has pleaded not guilty to charges of theft, misuse of public money and fraud.

Jeffrey Lee recently was indicted on 16 charges after a state audit found that he used purchase cards issued to him in Navajo and Coconino counties for personal benefit and falsified information in records.

Lee waived a scheduled court appearance and entered a not guilty plea earlier this week.

The case is being tried in Coconino County where Lee previously worked as an emergency preparedness manager. It's also where state auditors say he made the majority of the credit card purchases outlined in their report.

According to the audit, Lee bought $82,550 worth of gift cards and spent them on his family, himself or his personal outfitting business. Auditors say the practice continued at Navajo County.

Lee was terminated from his job overseeing Navajo County's health department last Friday, said county spokesman Bryan Layton. That county's annual audit conducted in early 2020 uncovered improper purchases that required Lee to reimburse $9,148 and surrender the credit card issued to him, Layton said.

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