A former City and Borough of Juneau Assembly candidate allegedly lied to get her Permanent Fund Dividend, according to an investigation from the Department of Revenue.
Charging documents were filed in Juneau District Court on Thursday, charging Loretto Lee Jones, 63, on one count of first-degree unsworn falsification and one count of second-degree theft, both of which are class C felonies. Jones ran for an Assembly seat in the fall of 2017.
According to the charging documents, the Department of Revenue’s Criminal Investigations Unit (CIU) received a tip claiming that Jones had been living primarily in Oregon from January 2015 to December 2016. Despite living primarily outside of Alaska, the charging documents allege, Jones still filed her PFD application (electronically) on Jan. 8, 2016. She responded “no” to every question on her PFD application about being absent from the state for more than 90 or 180 days.
Those who are absent from Alaska for more than 180 days must be absent on an allowable absence to qualify for the PFD, according to the PFD’s website. People are required to report their absences if they are gone from Alaska for 90 total days out of a year. Charging documents make no mention of Jones reporting an absence, but read that Jones denied being out of state for more than 90 days.
“There was no fraud involved,” Jones told the Empire via email. She said she is appealing the charges.
Nate Imes of the CIU spoke with Jones on Nov. 3, 2017 in person and via email afterward, according to charging documents. Based on the information Jones gave to Imes, Jones had been outside of Alaska for about 205 days in 2015. Imes then reviewed records from Alaska Airlines and the Alaska Marine Highway System. Combined with the information Jones gave him, Imes determined that Jones had been absent from Alaska for 260 days in 2015.
According to charging documents, Jones continued to claim she was not outside of Alaska for more than 90 days in 2015 despite her own documentation showing she was gone for more than twice that long. Jones received her 2016 PFD and collected $1,022 on Oct. 6, 2016.
During Jones’ run for Assembly, a judge ruled that Jones had violated the Landlord Tenant Act when she refused to return a security deposit to a former resident. This was the third time in the previous two years that former tenants had recovered damages from Jones, according to court records.
Near the outset of Jones’ campaign, the Juneau Police Department ended up at Jones’ house after eyewitnesses reported seeing Jones’ truck near houses with stolen campaign signs. No charges were filed.
• Contact reporter Alex McCarthy at 523-2271 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @akmccarthy.