The government says it has frozen the authority of Fred Thompson, director of the embattled Navajo Housing Authority.

"We have issued a letter May 23 to the executive director . . . and denied him capacity in the position," said Raphael Mecham, Phoenix-based director of Indian programs for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.Thompson was charged May 17 with five criminal counts of official misconduct in Navajo District Court in Window Rock. That was six days after Navajo interim president Leonard Haskie wrote the NHA board asking that Thompson be fired over unresolved discrepancies from a 1988 audit.

NHA employees protested and called for Thompson's resignation.

"Mecham is not my boss. My boss is the NHA Board of Commissioners," Thompson responded. "I'm still in charge here."

The action coincides with an investigation by an inspector general into allegations of misuse of federal funds at NHA.

Robert Kroll, director of the Phoenix office's Housing Management Division, said the action prohibits Thompson from being paid with any federal funds.