Former village president pleads guilty to embezzling over $100,000

Benjamin S. Brasch

The former president of Tatitlek Native Village pleaded guilty Wednesday to embezzling about $112,000 from the 88-person village between April 2008 and April 2009.

Lori "Sue" Clum, 45, of Anchorage, admitted in U.S. District Court that she wrote checks and made cash advances to herself in addition to funneling village funds to her brother, James Edward Kramer, 48, of Valdez.

According to a prepared statement from the U.S. Attorney's Office in Anchorage, from October 2007 to March 2009, Tatitlek, in Prince William Sound, received $500,000 from federal agencies for transportation planning, pollution prevention and natural resource management.

Clum was elected to the office in April 2007 after the previous 30-year-president died.

On April 15, 2008, the village held a meeting and elected another president. Clum disputed the election results and refused to step down, according to prosecutors.

Records show that Clum withdrew $28,750 in a cashier's check from Tatitlek six days after the vote.

For the next year she continued to take money by beefing up payroll payments, making cash advances to herself, and withdrawing unauthorized cash to the tune of $40,000.

On March 12, 2009, just 10 days after law enforcement contacted Clum for having illegal narcotics, she wrote herself a check for $19,500 from the village's account, prosecutors said.

Four days later, she withdrew $22,000 from a tribe account and gave $20,000 to Kramer, her brother.

According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, Kramer didn't file a tax return in 2009 and didn't claim the $20,000 as income. Kramer hasn't filed a tax return since 2008.

After channeling the money to her brother, Clum made two cash withdrawals totalling $6,000 of village money.

The Daily News reported in 2009 that Tatitlek had filed suit against Clum, accusing her of draining village accounts of $560,000.

Clum has only pleaded guilty to siphoning one-fifth of that.

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