Crime & Courts

Anchorage woman accused of embezzling nearly $175K from now-defunct tribal organization

An Anchorage woman accused of embezzling nearly $175,000 from a now-defunct tribal organization that she once led faces federal charges, prosecutors said Thursday.

From 2014 to 2016, 43-year-old Joni Raelle Bryant embezzled money from the Alaska Native Harbor Seal Commission, according to a statement from U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Alaska. Bryant was working as the organization’s executive director during that time, federal prosecutors said.

The ANHSC was created in 1994 “to promote the health of harbor seals in order to carry forward the cultural, spiritual, and nutritional traditions of Alaska Natives,” according to a Facebook page for the organization. The group was primarily funded through grants from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

The organization has not been operational since 2017, according to NOAA.

Bryant was responsible for managing federal grants and the organization’s day-to-day spending. Bryant used ANHSC’s funds to pay for personal travel, bills and shopping purchases, federal prosecutors said.

Bryant was indicted on a charge of embezzlement from an Indian tribal organization and two counts of embezzlement from an organization receiving federal funds, the U.S. Attorney’s office said Thursday.

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