Alaskan Officials in Hot Water

A federal grand jury indicted Maggie Ahmaogak, the former executive director of the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission (AEWC), in September. She is accused of diverting approximately $475,000 of AEWC funds for her personal use, and is formally charged with wire fraud, money laundering, theft and misapplication of funds from an organization receiving federal grants. The AEWC, a nonprofit organization formed in 1976 to preserve subsistence bowhead whale hunting traditions, is largely funded by federal tax money. Ahmaogak served as the AEWC executive director for 17 years before her ouster in 2007 when the financial irregularities were uncovered. She faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each count of the indictment. Ahmaogak’s replacement, Teresa Judkins, was also indicted in July for taking $100,000 of the Commission’s money for personal use.

Meanwhile, Arne Fuglvog, a top fisheries advisor in Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski’s office, pleaded guilty in August to a 2005 violation of a federal commercial fishing law and could face 10 months in jail and a $50,000 fine. He would also turn over his $100,000 profit from the incident to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to improve fisheries in coastal areas of the Gulf of Alaska. Fuglvog served for years on the North Pacific Fishery Management Council in Alaska before moving to Washington in 2006, and was a leading candidate in 2009 to head NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service.

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