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Former Anchorage School Board president charged with six felony counts of theft and fraud

Charging documents obtained by the Landmine show that former Anchorage School Board member and president Elisa Vakalis (formerly Elisa Snelling) has been charged with six felony counts of theft and fraud. The charging documents were filed today by the State of Alaska.

According to the documents, on May 27, 2020 Matt Tomter, owner of Matanuska Brewing Company, filed a report with the Anchorage Police Department alleging embezzlement from his restaurants by Vakalis, who was his bookkeeper. After her termination, Tomter hired an accountant to do a forensic accounting of the books. The forensic accounting, according to the documents, found three issues:

  1. Vakalis paid herself as both an independent contractor, which was agreed to, and a W-2 employee, which was not agreed to. It also says she gave herself bonuses and a pay raise! This totaled $9,379.73.
  2. Vakalis made out several checks to “petty cash” with no receipts. It also says she forged the signature of Leanne Parsons, the general manager of the Anchorage Alehouse. This totaled $5,749.58.
  3. Vakalis made out two checks payable to herself, and then later went into QuickBooks and changed the name of the checks to reflect a vendor. This totaled $4,500.

The documents also say Vakalis used the company credit card to pay a divorce lawyer ($3,000), to have work done on a car she owned ($2,814.53), and other smaller charges. This totaled $7,069.90. The charging documents say the theft exceeded $25,000.

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Here are the penalties for the charges she faces:

  • Scheme to defraud: AS 11.46.600(a)(2) — Class B Felony — punishable by up to ten years’ imprisonment and a fine of up to $100,000
  • Theft in the first degree: AS 11.46.120 — Class B Felony —  punishable by up to ten years’ imprisonment and a fine of up to $100,000
  • Falsifying business records: AS 11.46.630(a)(1) — Class C Felony —  punishable by up to five years’ imprisonment and a fine of up to $50,000
  • Falsifying business records: AS 11.46.630(a)(1) — Class C Felony — punishable by up to five years’ imprisonment and a fine of up to $50,000
  • Fraudulent use of an access device or identification document: AS 11.46.285(a)(3) — Class A Misdemeanor —  punishable by up to one year imprisonment and a fine of up to $10,000
  • Fraudulent use of an access device or identification document: AS 11.46.285(a)(3) — Class A Misdemeanor —  punishable by up to one year imprisonment and a fine of up to $10,000

Vakalis served on the Anchorage School Board from 2015 to 2021, meaning the alleged theft and fraud occurred while she was serving on the school board. She was first elected in 2015 and reelected in 2018. She was defeated in April’s election by Carl Jacobs.

Both Matt Tomter and Elisa Snelling declined to comment for this story.

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Reader
1 month ago

Please note also: she was one of the last people to see Andy Teuber alive while acting as his bookkeeper. 😳

Taku
1 month ago

Probably won’t see a day in jail, or maybe a day or so. A girl in Juneau embezzled about $30K from the real estate company she worked for, and I think the only time she spent in jail was the amount of time it took to book her. Then she was sentenced to pay back the money and a short stint of house arrest followed by probation. Not sure I see the deterrent to embezzlement. If you have no sense of shame, it’s a win-win proposition. If you get caught, you may have to pay the money back. If you… Read more »

turbodigits
1 month ago
Reply to  Taku

It happens surprisingly often. The victim often concludes that they’re more likely to get their money back if they don’t prosecute, because the perpetrator will lose earning power if there’s a public record of the embezzlement. I have worked for three businesses that this happened to, and the owners all approached the situation with compassion for the embezzlers and their families. In all three cases, the embezzler signed a promissory note under threat of prosecution, paid it off, and that was the end of it. Two of these embezzlers were Alaska CPAs who are still practicing. Stories abound about business… Read more »

E. Lizardo
1 month ago

Ironic, or maybe poetic justice, since I’ve heard multiple stories about Matt Tomter shorting his employee’s paychecks.

turbodigits
1 month ago
Reply to  E. Lizardo

Short paychecks can be a symptom of embezzlement. Mr Tomter might want to ask his accountant to

turbodigits
1 month ago
Reply to  turbodigits

…take a specific look at that possibility.

Cassandra R
1 month ago

This lady got multiple persons fired from Matanuska Brewing for thefts she committed from tills.

Last edited 1 month ago by Cassandra R