Crime & Courts

A single drug bust boosted Unalaska's public safety budget by 23 percent

The cash, motorcycles, snowmachines and other property seized from Stephen A. Rosa as part of a 2013 drug bust added a big boost to the budget of the Unalaska Department of Public Safety. But the department's director made sure to tell the City Council that the forfeited proceeds didn't really represent an increase in police spending, which is actually less than the previous year.

The $91,771 in forfeiture funds were listed in the police operating budget and contributed to a 23 percent increase in the budget. Public Safety Director Michael Holman emphasized at a March 21 council meeting that it was an artificially high figure and not due to any big increase in normal expenses like utilities and uniforms.

Rosa's seized property was sold at auction last year and, along with $40,000 in seized cash, accounted for most of the forfeiture funds. The police operations budget has actually declined by $2,700 from last year and is currently at $376,543, Holman said.

Rosa, 51, was among nine people arrested in Unalaska for selling methamphetamine to undercover agents in a series of raids on local homes and businesses on Oct. 23, 2013.

Rosa, a fuel truck driver and apartment complex manager, was convicted last year of third-degree controlled substance misconduct and third-degree weapons misconduct for being a felon in possession, and was sentenced to five years in jail.

At his arraignment in 2013, Rosa requested and received a public defender lawyer. He estimated his annual income at about $35,000 in a good year.

"I'm not the big shot you guys think I am," he said.

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Rosa was held in the absence of $100,000 bail and the condition of a third party custodian. He was initially charged with a total of 14 offenses involving meth and guns, plus one count for a different controlled substance, MDPV bath salts. When his apartment was searched, police found four handguns they say he possessed illegally, because a 2002 felony conviction for driving while intoxicated prohibited him from owning potentially concealable weapons.

Rosa originally faced 99 years on charges that he operated a "continuing criminal enterprise" for supervising at least five others involved in illegal activities and involving substantial sums of money. That charge was eventually dismissed.

This story first appeared in The Bristol Bay Times/Dutch Harbor Fisherman and is republished here with permission.

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