JUNEAU — A 64-year-old Anchorage man has been indicted on charges that he signed and deposited Permanent Fund Dividend checks that didn’t belong to him.
Daniel Batalona is facing three counts of first-degree forgery and three counts of second-degree theft under the indictment returned Friday. Investigators with the Alaska Department of Revenue said he deposited the three checks in October 2010.
Batalona told The Associated Press on Saturday that he hadn’t heard of the indictment. The checks were made out to his grandchildren, who moved to Hawaii with their father in 2009, and he said he signed them with his name and his son’s name. He said he was keeping the money for when his grandchildren were older, he thought what he did was legal, and he returned all the money as soon as the state informed him otherwise.
In a letter this summer, the Law Department asked him to plead guilty to third-degree forgery in a deal to avoid jail time. Batalona refused, saying he didn’t forge anything, but signed his own name.
“I did an honest mistake,” he said. “If I did wrong, lock me up. But I think they have better things to do than pick on somebody like me because I tried to help my grandkids.”
First-degree forgery is punishable by up to 10 years in jail and a $100,000 fine. Second-degree theft carries up to five years in jail and a $50,000 fine.
Last year’s Permanent Fund Dividend checks — the annual share of the state’s oil wealth given to each Alaska resident — were for $1,281.