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Former head of whaling commission pleads guilty

Posted: May 9, 2012 - 12:03am

ANCHORAGE — A former longtime Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission director and wife of a former North Slope Borough mayor has pleaded guilty to stealing nearly half a million dollars from the organization, which receives federal money.

Maggie Ahmaogak, the commission’s executive director for 17 years, entered the plea Monday before U.S. District Court Judge Sharon Gleason in Anchorage, the Anchorage Daily News reported.

Her successor, Teresa Judkins, also is accused of stealing from the organization. She was indicted on fraud charges and is scheduled for a plea hearing Wednesday.

The commission is a nonprofit group made up of 11 Alaska coastal subsistence whaling communities, according to commission documents. It participates in a cooperative agreement with federal wildlife authorities for management of the bowhead whale subsistence hunt.

Ahmaogak, 62, held the executive director job from 1990 to April 2007. Her husband, George Ahmaogak Sr., was elected North Slope Borough mayor five times. He lost a re-election bid 12 days after she was indicted. He is challenging the election.

Maggie Ahmaogak on Monday pleaded guilty to two counts of theft and misapplication of funds from an organization receiving federal money and one charge of money laundering. Prosecutors dropped a count of wire fraud. According to prosecutors, Maggie Ahmaogak wrote herself checks, transferred money into her personal account and paid herself bonuses.

She also used the whaling commission credit card on personal expenses, prosecutors said.

Maggie Ahmaogak bought plane tickets, groceries and medical fees with commission money, prosecutors said. She paid for out-of-state gambling trips with a family member, the charges said, and used commission money to buy three snowmobiles and make a down payment on a sport utility vehicle.

She will be sentenced July 23 by Gleason.

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