Barrow Woman Indicted by Federal Grand Jury for Misapplication of Funds from Federally Funded Program
|U.S. Attorney’s Office September 22, 2011|
ANCHORAGE—United States Attorney Karen L. Loeffler announced that a Barrow woman was indicted by a federal grand jury in Anchorage for wire fraud, theft, and misapplication of funds from an organization receiving federal grant funds and money laundering.
On September 22, 2011, Maggie Ahmaogak, 61, of Barrow, Alaska, was named in a four-count indictment.
According to the indictment, Ahmaogak was the executive director for the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission (AEWC) from 1990, until her termination in April 2007. AEWC is a non-profit organization formed in 1976, for the following purposes: to protect Eskimo subsistence whaling of bowhead whales; to protect and enhance the Eskimo culture, traditions, and activities associated with bowhead whales and subsistence bowhead whaling; and to undertake research and education related to bowhead whales. AEWC receives funding from several sources, with the majority coming from grants issued by the United States Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to AEWC to promote its purposes. Between 2004 and April 2007, AEWC received federal grant funds from NOAA totaling approximately $2.3 million.
The indictment further alleges that from at least 2004, to April 2007, Ahmaogak stole, obtained by fraud, and misapplied approximately $475,000 of AEWC funds for her personal use.
The indictment alleges that Ahmaogak did so by using the AEWC credit card for personal expenses and cash advances; writing checks to herself on AEWC accounts; taking payroll advances that were never repaid; withdrawing cash from AEWC accounts; and making a wire transfer to her personal account from an AEWC account. It is alleged that Ahmaogak used the money to pay for gambling activities for herself and a family member in Washington State, New Orleans, Louisiana, and Las Vegas Nevada, as well as to purchase three snow machines for her personal use and to make a down payment on a Hummer vehicle for her personal use, among other things.
Assistant United States Attorneys Aunnie Steward and Joe Bottini, who presented the case to the grand jury, indicated that the law provides for a maximum total sentence of 20 years in prison, a fine of $250,000 or both on each count. Under the federal sentencing statutes, the actual sentence imposed would be based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.
The IRS-Criminal Investigation, the FBI, and the Department of Commerce Office of Inspector General conducted the investigation leading to the indictment in this case.
An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the government must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.