PFD fraud case against Fisheries Board nominee ends in plea deal
March 2, 2022
A former nominee to the Alaska Board of Fisheries and a prominent Cook Inlet commercial fisherman pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of unsworn falsification on Feb. 18, ending a six-year legal struggle that saw him accused of multiple counts of Permanent Fund dividend fraud and improperly obtaining resident fishing licenses.
Roland Maw, nominated by former Gov. Bill Walker to the Fish Board in 2015 but never appointed, will pay a $500 fine and restitution of $9,582. He had been facing 12 felonies and five misdemeanors. The remaining charges are dismissed.
“I guess this is the end of these matters. Glad, sad, I don’t think any of those describe what it is. Just, it’s over,” the 78-year-old Maw said on Feb. 21.
Juneau Superior Court Judge Amy Mead approved the plea deal on Feb. 18, saying the misdemeanor conviction carries a lot of weight.
“Because it is a crime of dishonesty,” she said, according to Kenai public radio station KDLL-FM, which first reported the plea. “And I use that in the legal sense. I think the fact that you’re walking away with a conviction is very significant.”
Maw was the executive director of the United Cook Inlet Drift Association, a commercial fishing industry group, when Walker nominated him to the Board of Fisheries in 2015.
Maw withdrew his name from consideration after officials in Montana began investigating whether he had inappropriately applied for and received resident fishing licenses in that state. He was fined more than $7,000 after that investigation.
In 2016, Alaska officials filed PFD fraud charges against him. Alaska law says a person cannot receive the dividend if he or she has a resident hunting or fishing license from another state during the qualifying year. Prosecutors also accused him of being out of the state longer than typically permitted for a dividend recipient.
The charges against Maw were dismissed and refiled twice in the six years that followed; this month’s plea deal followed a third round of charges approved by a grand jury in 2018.
Maw said he offered to repay the state for his dividends years ago, but was turned down. The state recently offered a plea deal, he said, and he decided to accept it.
He attributed some of his problems to time spent out of the state while working on behalf of the state with the North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission, which regulates deep-sea fishing.
His attorney, Nicholas Polasky, said Friday’s plea deal was a compromise.
“Each party comes to the resolution for their own reasons. And for Mr. Maw, this was a good resolution to close out the case and move on with his life,” Polasky said.