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Sun Jan 19, 2014, 08:08 AM

Focus intensifies for Alaska embezzlement prosecutions

http://www.adn.com/2014/01/17/3279251/with-slimmer-grant-budgets-focus.html

Focus intensifies for Alaska embezzlement prosecutions
By CASEY GROVE
January 17, 2014 Updated 19 hours ago

With millions of federal grant dollars flowing to Alaska organizations every year, federal prosecutors are hoping to send a message to people embezzling money from those groups: They're coming for you.

Recent cases the U.S. Attorney's Office in Alaska has handled have ranged from a scheme in which a surplus officer gave heavy equipment to a middleman, who sold it and returned a kickback, to a village council president who simply wrote herself checks from the council's federally funded accounts. And while there are a wide variety of reasons people steal -- among them, drug and alcohol addiction, gambling debts, a desire to live an extravagant lifestyle -- federal embezzlement cases always involve an abuse of trust.

"The primary mechanism for ensuring the money is spent the way it's supposed to is trust that these people that receive it do what they say they're going to do with it," said Aunnie Steward, an Assistant U.S. Attorney who has prosecuted several such cases recently. "And so our mission is to make sure that there's deterrence for those that might see a way to personal gain, to deter them from doing that."

As federally funded programs see fewer dollars and budget belt-tightening increases, the need for that deterrence is greater than ever, said Kevin Feldis, another Assistant U.S. Attorney who is in charge of federal criminal prosecutions in Alaska.



unhappycamper comment: I would like to see the feds investigate whomever caused the last economics meltdown. But that won't happen.

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