The outlaw

Roland Maw leading the charge for UCIDA at an Alaska Fish Board meeting in Feb. 2020/Craig Medred photo

After more than six years, one of the longest-running cases in the history of the Alaska Court system appears headed toward an end in a plea deal with the outlaw Roland Maw,  the political operator who secured a seat he’d always coveted on the state Board of Fisheries only to have it come crashing down around him.

Maw was in the state’s capital city for a confirmation hearing to confirm is 2015 appointment when Alaska State Troopers were asked to find out if it was true he claimed to be a resident of Montana as well as Alaska.

The very next morning, Maw announced he was withdrawing from the confirmation process.

The Anchorage Daily News, fully aware of the reason he was quitting, published a story claiming instead that “Kenai fish wars have claimed another Fish Board nominee….(Gov. Bill)Walker spokesperson Grace Jang said she could only speculate on (Maw’s) reasons and declined to do so.”

Walker was at the time a good friend of then ADN publisher Alice Rogoff, and Jang knew fully well why Maw bailed out. Multiple sources later said that Walker told Maw to pull his resignation knowing that Montana officials were about to charge him with breaking the law in that state and reveal Maw’s claim to dual state residency.

The one-time director of the United Cook Inlet Drifters Association (UCIDA), the most powerful commercial fishing lobby in Southcentral Alaska, Maw would eventually admit to lying about his claims to be a resident of Montana in order to obtain cheaper hunting and fishing licenses and tags.

Long Alaska delay

That happened way back in2015. Maw accepted his guilt and Montana fined him $7,245 for his misbehavior along with revoking his “privileges to hunt, fish and trap in the state of Montana and all states in the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact for a period of 18 months, according to court documents. 

A retired professor from Lethbridge Community College in Alberta, just north of the border between Canada and the U.S. state of Montana; a contractor working for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game; and one of Cook Inlet’s more successful commercial fishermen, the Montana fine wasn’t much of a problem for the well-off, then 72-year-old.

His lying ways, however, presented much bigger problems in the 49th state where he had been filing to collect dividends from the now $81 billion Alaska Permanent Fund, which annually shares with the state’s citizens some of the income earned off oil wealth investments.

Alaska state law is very clear that it is illegal to collect that benefit while claiming to be the resident of another state, and since it is impossible and illegal to claim residency in two states at the same time, Maw found himself in a bit of pickle.

In January of 2016, Maw was charged with Permanent Fund Dividend (PFD) theft.

Montana state records indicate that in wake of those charges being filed in Alaska, Maw went back to court in that state to try to withdraw his plea of “nolo contendere” there. Nolo contendere pleas allow one to accept that they are guilty without admitting they are guilty. 

“Defendant contends he did not enter his plea voluntarily, as he was not provided with full discovery by the state before entering into a plea agreement,” the court document said. 

Attorneys say this is the sort of filing someone would make if after entering a nolo plea they learned there was something that might work to their advantage in trying to gain an acquittal at trial. An acquittal in Montana would have helped Maw defend against his case in Alaska by wiping away his admission he was claiming to be the resident of two states at the same time.

A Montana judge denied Maw’s request.

Some thought Walker, a big friend of UCIDA, would eventually jump in to bail Maw out of his self-created mess, but that never happened. And by 2018 Walker was done as governor thanks to the misbehavior of the late Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott. 

All of this left Maw with an uphill battle in a state that had charged him with six counts each of “unsworn falsification” and theft for first lying on his PFD applications and then banking the PFD checks sent to him, plus five counts of unsworn falsification for lying on hunting and fishing licenses.

The first 12 counts are felonies, the latter five misdemeanors.

Maw pled not guilty to the charges and his Juneau-based lawyer, Nicholas Polasky, mounted a defense based around the idea that Maw himself might have been the victim of a virtual, online imposter filing for dividends in Maw’s name. 

“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.”

Losing while winning

Twice Polasky managed to get a sympathetic judge, the son of a commercial fisherman, to quash the indictments against Maw, but Polasky’s legal arguments were a double-edged sword.

They cut Maw temporarily free of the charges but at the same time forced the state to reindict.

The state of Alaska does much of its business online, and it thus couldn’t let Maw walk based on the argument that anyone could be filing whatever online. That might open the door for lawyers for who knows how many other Toms, Dicks and Marys to resort to the Maw defense if they ended up in trouble.

With these legal maneuverings and then the pandemic, Polansky and Maw did, however, manage to delay the trial for six years in a first-class display of how the legal system can be manipulated by people with money. There is no telling what this has cost Maw, but other attorneys put the likely bill in the tens of thousands of dollars at least and probably into the hundred thousand dollar and over category.

Maw was finally set to go to trial before a jury in Juneau last week, but the trial was once again delayed.

Since then, the state court system has posted notice of a plea hearing for next Monday.

What exactly the now 78-year-old Maw plans to plead out to is unclear. A request for comment from the Department of Law brought no response.

Maw could not be reached for comment. Where he is living these days is also uncertain, but his voter registration showed him as an Alaska Republican living in what Kenai Peninsula Borough property records describe as a 945-square-foot, one-bedroom, one-bath house in Kasilof where he accepted a $52,557.83 Alaska CARES grant for 2020.

The Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security (CARES) grants were meant to aid small businesses hammered by the pandemic. Maw apparently filed for losses to his commercial fishing business.








15 replies »

  1. with that track record we can make him President, slam dunk in this state. Roland isn’t alone in his shaking the system. there are more shames and scams up here, all in the name of “freedom to do as i please”. ask any alaskan legislator that needs $307 in per diem to live while “serving the people”. of course the bible belting heathens that vote for them have their own grift going

  2. Yes, probably has cost him lots of money in attorney fees.
    Same with the State, lawyers who do it’s work, don’t come cheap.
    Plead him out.

    As to the uniformed person: any AK commercial fisher, who could show a loss, had the right to apply for “Cares”. Maw, as a UCI drift permit holder, evidently documented a loss in fish income.

    More to the point he has not been found guilty in an AK court of law.

    Love all of these political/fish pundits, who sit in their armchairs, blast negativity out to the world. Lots of class. LOL

    • James,
      Since I’m the only one who commented on the CARES grant, what makes you think I’m uninformed as to how the process works? Having a “right to apply”, being approved, being properly reviewed, and meeting all the legal criteria are all very different things. There have been many unscrupulous individuals who have taken advantage of these programs. Do you think maybe that could be why I said hopefully that is being reviewed as well? I would hope that all of these CARES grants are being thoroughly reviewed, but in cases where people have been shown to be unscrupulous by their own admission…

      • Steveo. ,
        Perhaps James was referring to shelias comment. Even so, this hit piece by Craig is a waste of everybodys time. Let the courts figure this one out. Somewhere along the line craig got a burr under his saddleblanket concerning commercial salmon fisheries, particularly cook inlet, and never passes up the opportunity to badmouth it. Surely with all the shit going on today, something is more newsworthy than dragging this 78 year old mans name through the mud,guilty or not.

      • Gunner: Three quick questions:
        1). How exactly is this badmouthing commercial salmon fisheries, be they in Cook Inlet or elsewhere?
        2.) Do you truly believe the media should only report on the crimes of the young and poor?
        3.) Do you honestly think reporting on the misbehaviors of state officials (or in this case a former state official) is dragging them through the mud?

        Isn’t ignoring such misbehavior an invitation for government corruption?

        Oh wait, sorry. That was a fourth question. You can ignore that one. I remain curious as to the other three.

      • Gunner, as a member of UCIDA which foolishly followed Maw’s federal Lawsuit to take away UCI fishery management from the State, I fully understand your desire to sweep Maw’s criminal Behavior under the rug. It is embarrassing, right?
        I also have a question for you. If punishing criminal behavior is supposed to serve as a deterrent to others who might be considering defrauding the State, how else can the public know what will happen if there is no publicity of the consequences.
        .Maw’s offenses are very newsworthy. But former ADn publisher Rogoff who was aligned with Walker and did not want to embarrass him chose to sweep it under the rug, calling Maw a victim of the CI fish wars. No he was not! He intentionally violated the law. And the public deserves to know he did.

  3. “……Maw would eventually admit to lying about his claims to be a resident of Montana in order to obtain cheaper hunting and fishing licenses and tags…….”
    Yet another excellent expose’, Mr. Medred, but I suggest that Maw didn’t apply for the resident license in Montana to save money. My bet is that he did it to obtain a specific permit that is not available to non-residents. This kind of behavior is common for people who think that the world revolves around them.

    • This may be the most serious violation of PFD fraud to ever have been charged in Alaska. . PFD fraud occurs fairly often and is hard to initially detect and then costly to prosecute. In order to deter others from committing the crime it appears that the State decided to pursue this case no matter how long it took. Also digital Signatures are used in other ways to conduct business in Alaska. If all it took to render a transaction void or to not have occurred was to simply claim that they did not sign digitally it might require the state in many case to go back to notarized signatures. That could be a tech step in the wrong direction and not only slow many transactions but significantly delay and increase costs of doing business.
      So the State has more at stake here than simply bringing this thief to justice.
      Let’s hope that there will be more than a simple order to pay back the PFDs and a small fine. There should be jail time imposed to send the proper message to the public. But with the Covid impacts on courts and jails, the length of time involved and Maw’s age I will be surprised if he serves time in a penal institution. He might be placed in custody in his house. But that is not jail. It is in the comfort of a home.

      • US Constitution says a felony is rape, actual battery, putting someone in fear of imminent physical harm or break and entering to steal. The US Constitution says liberty may be taken for these only when done in the presence of a police officer and or witnesses after grandy jury, indictment, and a jury of his peers/visonage 78 year-olds from his Alaskan town. Then he can lose his liberty. That’s the only way. Everything else is justice by making whole financially. So who is more important than the US Constitution.

  4. The question is how did he get the grant – was he not in the system when this came around? Anyone with any data on this?

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