Crime & Courts

Alleged theft from tribal bingo parlor results in federal felony charge

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Federal prosecutors have accused a Fairbanks woman for stealing from an Alaska Native tribe after she allegedly took money from a tribally owned bingo parlor while working there.

Mesepa Tagovailoa has agreed to plead guilty, according to documents filed Wednesday with the U.S. District Court for Alaska.

According to prosecutors, Tagovailoa improperly took more than $4,000 belonging to Chena Bingo while working as a manager there.

While the alleged crime involved a relatively small amount of money, Chena Bingo is co-owned by the Tanana Chiefs Conference, the Village of Grayling (a federally recognized tribe), the Fairbanks Native Association and the Athabascan Fiddlers Association.

Because Grayling is entitled to 25% of the proceeds from Chena Bingo, the alleged theft became a federal crime.

Tagovailoa’s federal public defender declined comment, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Seth Brickey, the prosecutor, did not return a message seeking further information.

While the alleged theft is punishable by up to five years in prison, prosecutors agreed “to recommend a sentence at the low end of the guideline range” as part of the plea deal.


A hearing has been scheduled for July 11.

Originally published by the Alaska Beacon, an independent, nonpartisan news organization that covers Alaska state government.