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Teresa Judkins, second whaling commission embezzler, sentenced

Alaska Dispatch

A dark chapter for the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission is nearing closure. Two former executive directors admitted to embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars from the nonprofit organization several years ago. Maggie Ahmaogak and her successor, Teresa Judkins, will both serve jail time for their crimes.

On Tuesday, Judkins, who testified against Ahmaogak and was accused of taking less money, was sentenced to six months in prison for two counts of intentional misapplication of funds from an organization receiving federal grant money. The commission receives grants to further its mission of protecting the bowhead whale, an endangered species, and the tradition and subsistence practices of Alaska Natives on the North Slope who rely on the whales for food, identity and to maintain their culture.

Judkins, 52, must repay the $100,339 she took and undergo three years of supervised release after her prison term. According to prosecutors Judkins got ahold of the money through payroll advances that were never repaid, and she purchased airline tickets, hotels, car rentals and a snow machine for personal use. She also wrote herself whaling commission checks and cashed them.  

Sentenced in November, Ahmaogak is serving a 41-month federal prison term. She was accused of diverting more than $400,000 in whaling commission money for her own use.

Judge Sharon Gleason, who presided over both trials, noted at the sentencings that Judkins accepted responsibility while Ahmaogak failed to – a factor in determining the lengths of each woman's jail time.

The case made headlines in 2011 with the announcement of Ahmaogak's indictment, coming less than two weeks before North Slope voters would decide whether to give her husband, George Ahmaogak, the mayor's job. He lost to Charlotte Brower.