Former head of Alaska nonprofit charged with stealing $60,000

Tegan Hanlon

The former chief operating officer of an Anchorage substance abuse and education advocacy group faces felony theft and fraud charges, with police alleging she stole more than $60,000 from the nonprofit.

Anna Sappah, 52, managed Alaska Addiction Professionals Association, at 207 E. Northern Lights Blvd., from 2009 to the end of 2013. According to charges filed in state court earlier this month, she had the bank issue her a debit card linked to the AAPA account in 2010 and began stealing money -- first $3,803.42 in 2010, then $18,423.28 in 2011 and up to $24,329.73 in 2012.

By the end of 2013, she had used the card to make about $60,849 in personal purchases, the complaint said.

Cynthia Aiken, the treasurer of AAPA, told police that Sappah had reported the nonprofit's account balance to the board of directors for three years "and no one questioned her," the complaint said. Sappah was in charge of all of AAPA's financial holdings.

"Although Aiken is the treasurer she had not been looking at the bank statements or other financial records to keep accurate account of monies coming in and going out," the complaint said.

In December 2013, Sappah told Aiken that there wasn't any money in the account, which prompted the audit that discovered theft.

"Prior to this incident no one questioned Anna and there were no audits to ensure the association's funds were being used properly," the complaint said. AAPA is primarily funded by state grants and some member dues.

On Jan. 30, police were given a confession signed by Sappah and a thumb drive containing an audio recording of a board meeting where Sappah was confronted.

"Anna said that she, at one time, kept track with the intention to pay the money back, but she did not realize it was so high," the complaint said.

None of the AAPA board members could be reached for immediate comment.

Sappah's arraignment is scheduled for March 7. She is charged with first-degree theft, scheme to defraud and fraudulent use of an access device.

Reach Tegan Hanlon at or 257-4589.