A Superior Court judge in Juneau will now decide whether the outlaw Roland Maw, a one-time member of the Alaska Board of Fisheries, goes to trial on charges of bilking the Permanent Fund of thousands of dollars.
The state on Tuesday summitted its oppositon to a motion to quash a 12-count indictment against Maw. State attorneys basically argued capital city lawer Nicholas Polasky, who represents Maw, just doesn’t understand grand jury rules very well.
More than a month ago, the attorney for Maw, a longtime commercial fisherman with homes on Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula and in Montana, moved to kill the indictment charging Maw with multiple felonies related to lying about his place of residency and the associated theft of Permanent Fund Dividends (PFDs).
PFDs are the $1,000 to $2,500 checks Alaskans get each year as their share of the earnings on investment of state oil wealth. PFD recipients are required to be actual, year-round Alaska residents in order to legally collect the money. Maw appears more of a snowbird, according to the state.
Polasky is trying to use a technicality to get Maw out of the jam that he is in. In a 19-page motion, Polasky argues the state failed to provide the grand jury the evidence necessary to substantiate claims that Maw – and not some unidentified third-party – sat down at a computer keyboard to make online purchases of hunting and fishing licenses, and airline reservations.
“Mr. Maw does not necessarily assert that he is not the person who made the statements or engaged in the conduct that is represented in every single exhibit,” Polasky wrote. “However, Mr Maw does not agree that he is the person who made the statements or engaged in the conduct in some of the exhibits.”
Because of that, Polasky wants the indictment ripped up.
The state on Tuesday filed a four-page answer to his motion that could be summarized in three words: Don’t be silly.
“The evidence presented to the grand jury was both admissible and sufficient, and supports the indictment,” Assistant Attorney General Lisa Kelley wrote in the second line of the motion.
What followed was basically a quick primer on the rules of evidence for grand juries, and a step-by-step guide as to why every exhibit to which Polasky objected was admissible.
Specifically as to the idea that what happens in the tubes and stays in the tubes and cannot be connected to anyone, the motion noted that “the state can prove this (was Maw) through circumstantial evidence. The evidence, when taken as a whole, clearly shows it was the defendant who made the statements and took the actions as presented in the exhibits.”
The investigation into Maw’s PFD claims took the state months and resulted in a 481-page dossier documenting not only the “variety of Montana resident fish and game licenses (obtained) between 2008 and 2014,” according to court records, but Maw’s extensive out-of-state travels by air and by road.
Maw is a retired college professor. For years, he taught at a Canadaian college in the fall, winter and spring, then came to Alaska to commercial fish in the summer – sometimes claiming to be an Alaska resident, sometimes not.
According to the state, that pattern, or a similar one, continued after Maw decided to make the 49th state his permanent residence.
Maw, according to the state, lied when he said on his PFD applications from 2008 to 2014 that he hadn’t been gone from the state for more than 90 days each year.
A financially well-off Maw appears to have spent a lot of time traveling in that period. According to court records, 150 pages of ticketing information from Alaska Airlines show the “trips alleged to have been taken by Mr. Maw.”
Judge Louis J. Menendez will rule on the motion to kill the indictment. If he holds for the state and allows the case to move forward, the trial is tentatively scheduled to start in Juneau on Jan. 9.
The state Board of Fisheries is scheduled to begin meeting to discuss ever-contentious Cook Inlet fisheries in Anchorage a little over a month later.
Despite being convicted of illegally claiming residency in Montana in order to obtain cheaper, resident hunting and fishing licenses there, and his problem with charges of PFD theft in Alaska, Maw has been welcomed back into the fold of the United Cook Inlet Drift Association, where he was once the executive director. He remains a key player.
The group representing commercial salmon drift-netters is the most powerful fisheries lobby in the region. It is expected to next year stage a full-scale push to convince the Board of Fisheries to reduce the number of spawning salmon getting into the Kenai River.
That too many salmon make it back into Alaska rivers is a tune on which Maw has been one of the band leaders for years. Whether he will be able to attend the board meeting to make this pitch again could be determined by a judge.