The state of Alaska is refusing to let go the former member of the Alaska Board of Fisheries accused of being an AKINO – Alaskan In Name Only.
Three times now, Roland Maw, the former executive director of the United Cook Inlet Drift Association (UCIDA), has been indicted by Juneau grand juries on charges of Permanent Fund Dividend fraud only to have the the first two indictments quashed by a Juneau Superior Court judge.
Juneau Superior Court Judge Louis Menendez, the son of a one-time California commercial fisherman, has clearly shown a dislike for the state’s PFD accusations, although Menendez has let stand misdemeanor charges that Maw lied about his residency to obtain state hunting and fishing licenses.
Alaska prosecutors, however, appear unfazed by the judge’s objections. They last week came back with yet another indictment – the third – against Maw, according to KTOO News in the capital city.
A hearing on the case is set for Monday.
Menendez dismissed the first indictment against Maw on the grounds the state presented improper hearsay evidence to the jury.
Maw’s attorney, Nicholas Polasky of Juneau, argued at the time that one of the big problems with the case was that the state couldn’t prove Maw was the man sitting at a computer keyboard making online reservations to travel out-of-state and purchase resident hunting and fishing licenses in Montana.
After the first indictment was quashed and a second issued, Polasky further argued the state had no evidence to show Maw was the one who actually completed his electronic PFD application and that the state failed to present enough evidence to show Maw wasn’t entitled to a PFD.
The judge tossed the second indictment for lack of evidence.
The state put together an exhaustive file on Maw’s travels out of state even though it appeared to have a very simple case against Maw in that he obtained resident hunting licenses in Montana. The law governing the permanent fund application specifically states that if someone obtains resident hunting or fishing licenses in another state they do not qualify for the dividend.
Maw has not revealed how much it has cost him to fight the case. But after the first indictment was dismissed, he told the Alaska Journal of Commerce the state had treated him unfairly and drained him financially.
Outwardly, the 74-year-old commercial halibut fisherman and former salmon fishermen appears to have weathered the situation well. He has remained a player in Alaska fishery politics as if nothing happened. But then commercial fishermen are used to hard knocks.
Maw was in attendance and working the crowd in Kenai when Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, held a hearing to consider amendments to Magnuson-Stevens last summer, and he was with a group of UCIDA officials huddling with Gov. Bill Walker last October before the second indictment was quashed.
Since Maw left UCIDA, the organization has operated without an executive director with Maw sometimes filling in as the group’s spokesman. Maw was the one last year explaining to the media what UCIDA wants from a federal court decision ordering the federal government to write a Fisheries Management Plan for federal waters in Cook Inlet.
The feds had long bowed to state management of salmon throughout the Inlet, but UCIDA sued to force federal intervention in waters outside the state’s three-mile jurisdiction. UCIDA contends it isn’t getting to catch the number of salmon drift netters deserve because the state doesn’t always manage for maximum sustained yeild.
UCIDA is of the belief it will get more fish under federal management. But the feds have struggled with what is a complex, mixed-stock fishery involved various species of salmon from dozens of rivers, and Maw complained to the Alaska Journal of Commerce in January 2017 that commercial fishermen are getting “a little cranky” about the process.
Since the PFD charges were first filed, Maw has seemed more concerned about his role in Inlet salmon management, a subject on which he considers himself an expert, than his legal problems. He has told friends he is confident he will eventually be vindicated.
Maw could not be reached for comment. The phone at his Dillion, Mont., home has been disconnected, and it appears he has put the house up for sale.
When Maw unexpectedly withdrew from the confirmation process for Fish Board membership after having already begun functioning as a member of the board in 2015, he told the Alaska Dispatch News he maintained a residence in Montana because his wife need to live there for health reasons.
No listed Alaska phone number could be found for Maw. An attempt to connect with him through his LinkedIn page, which reports him as “Semi Retired at Natural Resources Canada,” went unanswered. Maw spent his professional career as a professor at the University of Lethbridge in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada, just across the border from where he grew up in Montana.
He bought a commercial fishery limited entry permit to fish Cook Inlet in 1983, according to state records. Seven years later in 1990 he declared himself a resident of Kasilof, though as of the previous July the Lethbridge Herald described him as an “environmental science instructor at Lethbridge Community College.”
In 1993, according to state records, Maw changed his status back to non-resident and gave his address as Lethbridge. He continued to list his status as a non-resident with the Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission until 1998 when he again claimed residence at a post office box in Kasilof.
He would from then on claim residency.
In 2015, at the time of his surprise announcement that he was resigning from the Board of Fish, Maw told the Alaska Dispatch News that “I retired in 2001 and we moved here in June of that year or 2000, I can’t remember the exact year, but whenever that qualifying period was over” he started collecting PFDs.
Maw’s resignation came after the state of Alaska learned he might be claiming residency in the state of Montana as well as the state of Alaska. A Montana court eventually judged Maw guilty of claiming to be a resident of that state while also claimed to be a resident of Alaska.
(Editor’s note: The reporter on this story was working for the Alaska Dispatch News in 2015 and asked Alaska State Troopers to confirm that Maw had obtained a Montana resident hunting license. Maw resigned the next morning. The ADN covered up its knowledge of those events at the time for reasons that have never been explained.)