Couple arrested for fraud after obtaining $1.6 million in Covid funds from Anchorage Assembly


An Anchorage couple was arrested and indicted on charges of fraudulently obtaining millions in Covid-19 relief funds through deceitful business practices.

The Anchorage Assembly gave $1.6 million in 2021 to the charity, which said it worked to help homeless addicts get shelter and treatment.

Rosalina Natazha Mavaega, 41, and Pastor Esau Malele Fualema Jr., 44, stand accused of using their nonprofit, House of Transformations, a homeless services enterprise, and associated corporate entities to deceive the Municipality of Anchorage. Back in 2015, Mavaega was banned by the State of Alaska from ever being authorized as a Medicaid provider, due to shady practices.

In April 2021, court records reveal that the duo sought over $1.6 million from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) from the Assembly. These funds intended to support businesses hampered by the Covid pandemic policies put in place by government lockdowns and mandates.

The application included misleading details regarding the scope of services to be provided by their nonprofit, such as housing, treatment, and vocational training. Further, financial and management data for House of Transformations were falsely portrayed to inflate their entitlement to these funds.

By August of the same year, the couple had received a substantial payment from the Anchorage Assembly, amounting to $1,623,165. Rather than channeling these funds to their stated cause, Mavaega and Fualema are alleged to have redirected the money for personal gain. This included financing their for-profit ventures, settling tax debts, acquiring a personal loan, and purchasing cryptocurrency.

The couple’s fraudulent activities didn’t end there. In December 2021, they are said to have made deceptive applications to the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program. The intent behind these applications was to acquire over a million dollars by falsifying business statuses, overreporting employee counts, misrepresenting company structures, and illicitly using personal identification of others to simulate association with their corporate entities.

Their illegal scheme peaked in the summer of 2022, with another alleged attempt to defraud the Municipality of Anchorage, seeking approximately $2 million in additional ARPA grants.

The charges against Mavaega and Fualema include major fraud against the U.S., wire fraud conspiracy, wire fraud, money laundering conspiracy, and aggravated identity theft.

Arrests were made at the Captain Cook Hotel for Mavaega and Fualema’s residence. Pending court appearances, they could face a minimum of 24 months imprisonment.

This case was unveiled through a joint announcement by U.S. Attorney S. Lane Tucker of the District of Alaska; IRS Criminal Investigation, Seattle Field Office, Special Agent in Charge Adam Jobes; and Small Business Administration Office of Inspector General, Western Region Special Agent in Charge Weston King.

The investigative charge is jointly shouldered by the IRS Seattle Division and the Small Business Administration Office of Inspector General.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys James Klugman and Karen Vandergaw, along with former U.S. Attorney George Tran, are leading the prosecution against the indicted.


    • Of course they are. Conservatives have figured out how to use the appearance of a charitable organization to siphon the money away from the government. It’s really genius.

      • lol! Overwhelming people that received COVID funds were not conservatives.
        Perhaps there will be a deeper investigation of the one an assembly person runs! Just saying most need a good investigation. I see very little accountability of any of the 53 million this assembly gave out as most federal grants fail to do!

        • Due to the separation of powers in the municipality, once the Assembly appropriated the funds, the authority of drafting grant agreements and ensuring compliance fell on the Administration.

          Appropriation is the the job of the Assembly, Accountability is the function of the Administration.

          • Oh, not quite true. The Assembly are the ones that pick what grants will be awarded. That means they can pick their favorite and I assure you they did. So, I assume the Assembly vets the people they pick. In actuality the ARPA Grants are the responsibility of the people receiving the grant. The City has an expert consultant in grants that is available to everyone and notifies people when the grants are due.

          • So then why did they raise such a stink about the navigation center THEY APPROVED and appropriated $6 million for? The mayor used the funds to make it happen, only for them to take it back and cancel the build. Either money is out of their hands after they, according to you willy-nilly shovel it out the door to all who come calling, or it isn’t. Can have it both ways there Bob!
            The approving entity has the responsibility to make sure grants are properly awarded. Divvying out the funds and writing the agreement is an administrative function AFTER the vetting and approval.

      • who had control of that money?? is the brutalizer from the bay area Austin Quinn a conservative? they even suspended the democratic process in anchorage to ensure that those sweet covid bucks could be controlled by the brutalizer and her friends on the assembly.

    • I bet they don’t even take the time to vote. Seeing their address was at a hotel tells me the muni more likely has no updated address to send them a mail in ballot. if they even get one which is likely going to a previous residence. These kind of individuals are the kind part of the non voting crowd. If they are sentenced a felony well then that fixes their voting eligibility.

    • I bet you took hours to come up with that well thought out and rational response.
      I hope you offer your wisdom often.

    • OK, how much?
      No… if you really want to make that statement, let’s call it $1,000.
      I will take that bet. If they are not clearly associated with leftists causes, and clearly associated with conservative groups, you win.

      • Bronson threw a fit because the assembly wanted more info on why they needed so much money. There’s a literal post on church’s social media praising Bronson for meeting with them.

        • Sorry, Bronson did what? Like I care? That is proof of…nothing.
          And, unless TiminWasilla and TrueIndepentent are the same person, your response is not part of the bet.

    • Timinwasilla doesnt seem to do much research before barking. Smart dogs dont bark unless someone intrudes.
      Actually this scam occurred while the phony self appointed mayor Austin Quinn Davidson who was in a s**thouse hurry to get rid of the 50 Million the Muni received before the new mayor took office. Alaska Black Caucus was also a recipient of the Lions share of the 50 Mil. Forrest Dunbar made a public comment when this money arrived and said “This is an excellent time for equalization of the disadvantaged”
      It appears the Blacks and the Homeless drug addicts were the intended targets of the free money. They must have suffered the most during Covid due to the disrupted Heroine supply?
      The ASSembly didnt waste any time dumping money in their cohorts pockets even after the State of Alaska found them incompetent of collecting Medicaid funds.
      The million dollar question here is who on the Assembly are they affiliated with???
      No Tim not likely a conservative…Just more idiotic scammers getting caught taking advantage of stupid people writing checks using taxpayer dollars to fill their cohorts pockets (with kickbacks for the big guy?)

      Are you familiar with the Joe and Hunter scam?

      • The Joe and Hunter “scam”? The one that during Republicans impeachment inquiry today’s 3 star witnesses all affirmed that there’s no evidence to impeach Joe? That one? Or were you meaning how Trump and his family were caught conducting massive tax fraud going decades back?

      • The only scam I’m familiar with is conservative Christians seeking out positions of power and then using that power to give away government money to their buddies. Like Bronson, Tshibaka, Jim Matherly and Jim Minnery, they are just defrauding the public, but they are doing it under the guise of religion.

    • So you think the Assembly gave money to a conservative group? Does the Assembly or any liberals actually follow up on all the money they give out to “help” homeless? Or did it just check the “race” box?

  1. Poor judgment and poor decision making by the assembly. How did they miss this? Why didn’t they investigate these people Before giving them the funds? I thought they keep telling us how expert, smart and superior they are, good at finding issues and ways to get rid of anyone who doesn’t agree with their agenda, and how they should get to take over, run everything and make all the decisions. The assembly should be held personally liable and personally responsible for the missing funds. Perhaps they didn’t care because the money was going to their homeless empire.

    • That doesn’t make any sense. When they were handing money out, nobody really imagined how much fraud religious organizations would commit. That’s why they warned–we will be vetting all of these later.

      It was distributed was fast and without much vetting, with many harsh penalties named for lying on the application. I personally did not expect so many non-profits and religious organizations materialize out of the woodwork and take money. It’s hard to imagine if you aren’t a bad person, just how far these “religious” people are willing to go for money.

      • What does not make any sense is not vetting someone or some agency who will be receiving a large amount of money for a specific purpose. To warn that they will be vetting all of these later makes no sense either. What good does that do? seems there is little to no possibility of getting the funds back and for some no way to account for how the funds were spent. Any time there is a large amount of money to disburse, there will be scammers – that is no surprise. It was the Assembly’s job to vet the recipients and they failed miserably.

        • One of the reasons why these people were not vetted is because they were personally connected to mayor Bronson and the Tshibakas. They sat next to each other at church. They didn’t need to vet their buddies! Hand over the cash. We promise it’s for Jesus!

        • The onus is on the Assembly to perform due diligence as the issuing body for the grant money. the whole assembly is full of onuses

      • Read the article. It states the Assembly gave them the money. It is the Assembly’s JOB to vet them BEFORE giving out funds, not after. I never thought people would cheat and I’ll check on it later is NOT a good excuse. Due diligence and ordinary business care and prudence was NOT exercised.

    • It was Mayor Bronson who appointed Mavaega to the Anchorage Human Rights Commission. Did Bronson’s people know of her prior ban by the State of Alaska ? It’s public record, did they not vet the applicant ?

      How does that land on the Assembly ?

      Chief Equity Officer Junior Aumavae, is the brother of House of Transformation director Elizabeth Aumavae, how did he not know of the ban by the state ?

      You should be directing your ire on the self dealing shenanigans of Mayor Bronson’s staff instead of the Assembly.

      Funny how the writer conveniently left out this little tidbit of information. That’s Journalism 101 stuff, folks.

      • Civics 101, Bob! The funds were approved by the assembly as they are the fiduciary authority and they were distributed BEFORE Mayor Bronson took office. While he appointed this person to the commission, it is my understanding that it required the APPROVAL of the assembly, who have been very outspoken about “qualifications of appointees”…..
        Funny how you ignore the actions by the assembly to point out the mayor’s appointment, which is immaterial to the fraud charges against this couple.

        • Due to the separation of powers in the municipality, once the Assembly appropriated the funds, the authority of drafting grant agreements and ensuring compliance fell on the Administration.

          It is you who needs a civics lesson, Taxpayer.

          • Yeah nice try here Bob.
            You clearly have no understanding of what the word “approved” means in this context. It categorically states that the assembly has approved a grant application and DIRECTS the administration to distribute following their directive. The mayor has no power to diviate from that. It further implies that the assembly has researched the recipients properly to comply with their fiduciary responsibility to the taxpayer to be judicious with the funds available.
            You know the assembly got rolled by a couple of crooks, but instead of saying “we were swindled and will put measures in place to prevent this from happening again” they pretend to be as clean as the wind-driven snow and blame somebody else. It speaks to character!
            As an interesting aside the mayor you should take issue with is clearly AQD. She was in the mayor’s chair in April of 2021 and did not relinquish it until July 1 of that year. Since the funds were all distributed by August, it seems that her administration did the grant writing and most of the disbursement.
            You want to gripe moan to her!

      • I see TWO distinct issues, they are totally separate and unrelated.
        Issue #1: We have the fraudulent application and misuse of these grant funds.
        That is 100% on the Assembly and Acting Mayor.
        Mayor Bronson was not in office until July of 2021.
        Related to this topic, when the mayor has vetoed an appropriation he is overridden and directed to pay out per the Assembly’s will. When he and his staff attempt to hold vendors or grantees accountable, they leverage their political connections to Assembly and get their money.

        Issue #2: Appointment of a Commissioner to a Board or Commission. This is partially on Mayor Bronson and AGAIN on Assembly. Let’s add some color to this issue. After multiple good citizens applied, were vetted and DENIED by the Assembly, I am shocked anyone would volunteer (these are unpaid positions). Mayor Bronson does not vet these folks, someone on his staff or in HR runs standard background checks and lets his office know (Chief of Staff or Muni Manager) that they are clear. They then get the Mayor’s buy-in and person is advanced to Assembly for approval. Historically over last two years MOST of Mayor Bronson’s commission candidates are rejected. So, finding someone willing to volunteer their time is tough.

    • DNA.
      They were the right skin color, and they were “supporting” the homeless. Those two items alone are enough for the Assembly to grant them millions without further investigation.

      • It’s easy to pull one over on fanatical ideologues, partisan types. Just tell them what they want to hear and they’ll look the other way when questions arise. Or so it seems.

  2. What a surprise, the Anchorage Assembly being involved in distributing fraudulent Wuhan funds. Dig a little deeper and find out which Assembly members had personal relationships with these individuals.

    • Actually, this little caper runs through Junior’s office, not the Assembly.

      Fact: Junior Aumavae’s sister is a Director of House of Transformation. Do you think Junior could look you in the eye and tell you with a straight face that he was unaware of Mavaega’s Medicare ban by the state ?

      Mavaega Aumavae created a series of shell companies to hide their fraud and self dealing, it’s as simple as that.

      It wasn’t the Assemblies job to vet and investigate the 100’s of applicants that sought relief during a very trying time. The applicant had a history of fraud and should have had the integrity by not applying for funds for which she was not entitled.

      That’s an integrity issue on the applicant and those associates of hers who knew of her ban.

      Nope, this is clearly in Junior and his sisters court, something tells me that when the Feds really start to apply the heat, that someone in this bunch will fold like a cheap suit and rat out their friends 🐀 🐀 🐀

      • “It wasn’t the Assemblies job to vet and investigate the 100’s of applicants that sought relief during a very trying time. The applicant had a history of fraud and should have had the integrity by not applying for funds for which she was not entitled.”
        What?? You want crooks with integrity?? This whole argument is laughable! The very definition of criminal behavior is the deliberated ignorance of laws and established societal behavior norms.
        It is apparent that you do no like Junior, and in your dislike you end up defending people who rob the taxpayer of millions.

    • I suppose it will all come out in the investigation, if they follow the money. It may be worthwhile to watch the meetings to see, who squirms the most….
      What it clearly proves is funds the assembly was supposed to use to make business people whole for shutting them down, went into the bottomless pit of murky homeless causes. It further highlights their lax practices when vetting applications.Clearly nobody on the assembly ever heard of Google! Like Berky’s bare behind their cavalier use of taxpayer funds is being discovered.

    • You don’t even have to dig, the church that Bronson goes to with these people posted about this!! Praising the Lord that they were getting government money lolol

      The thing about scammers is they are so greedy they don’t know when to stop.

  3. Wow this is crazy. What do you have to do to get charged with fraud in this state? They made someone mad somehow.

  4. These fraudsters are frequently referred to as the minnows in the swamp. Think about the big fish in the swamp. And how much they milked out of the covid disaster funds and gotten by with it, so far, and will never be caught. Hundreds of times that amount. And who are the people who are indebted to pay for all of the fraud? You and Me, Scooter!!! “I’m from the government and I’m here to help you”. (I couldn’t help myself).

  5. Another perfect example! These two roaches rip off a couple three million and are arrested PDQ. Garrett Elder rips off $30mm and he’s still hanging out going fishing and having a good time.

    Same law enforcement group responsible for both.

    Why is Garrett Elder not being properly managed?

  6. I think that it is really interesting that the Anchorage Assembly did not review Mavaega’s background and see a problem there. Hmmm. Money laundering operation going on?

  7. Banned by the State for Medicaid fraud & 6 years later the libs give them 1.6 mil
    Does the assembly know about Google yet?

  8. I bet they were approved based on their race by an Assembly that feels it must be racially equitable. Martin Luther King Jr say? Uhm let me remember… “ I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.“ A good lead thoroughly investigates businesses and individuals before investment.

    And we all know that 2020 relief money was for businesses and employees that suffered from government lockdowns. It wasn’t for the homeless.

  9. I bet they were approved based on their race by an Assembly that feels it must be racially equitable. What did Martin Luther King Jr say? Uhm let me remember… “ I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.“ A good leader thoroughly investigates businesses and individuals before investment.

    And we all know that 2020 relief money was for businesses and employees that suffered from government lockdowns. It wasn’t for the homeless.

    • It was most likely based on their clothes and personal ties to the other conservative Christian members of the assembly, including mayor Bronson.

  10. “We’ll be getting a lot of that money back” President Donald Trump said prophetically regarding the “covid relief” funds. Meanwhile millions were avulsed from their homes as a direct result of the economic mandates of quiscient government actions across America.

  11. The Politburo should give them a pass out of professional courtesy.

    Surely there’s room for someone besides the Politburo to commit Covid fraud.

  12. We have a duty to the Creator by reason and dictates of our conscience. It is a duty of all. Rex Non Scripta. Natural Law from God for God given human rights. Who is suffering for standing up to injustice? President Trump didn’t make the law.

  13. Exactly, I’m sure there was a skim somewhere. Where you find Democrats, you find fraud and cheating. The two go hand in hand.

  14. More religious people stealing money directly from the government. Surprise surprise. Probably one and 10 churches is real. The rest are stood up to steal cash from the govt.

    • Sorry, you just invalidated your own argument. If only 1 in 10 churches is real, then one can argue legitimately that these are NOT religious people. Instead they are crooks using the mantle of religion to hoodwink and cheat. Sort of like Solyndra pretending to work to fight climate change, only to take the government to the cleaners to the tune of $535 million, never producing any real value and shuttering its doors to never repay any of those loans.

  15. The honest small business owners who qualified for Covid Grants did not get the money and the unqualified and so called non-profits did get the Grants for the most significant amounts of money’s.

    Summarize; good people loose and bad people win and with the help of the state and city governments.
    There is also no such thing as a non-profit organization.

  16. A recent AP analysis found that as much as 10% of the more than 4 TRILLION dollars spent on covid relief was stolen or wasted. Since it’s the AP I’d guess that’s a very low estimate.

    I personally know of millions and millions and millions of wasted covid relief monies, that while fitting the loose requirements set forth by government, can only be described as wasteful unneeded spending. There has been so much money wasted that money has become almost meaningless to the point where everyday objects cost twice as much as they did 2-3 years ago.

  17. I suspect their DNA had more to do with receiving the funds than their business acumen, and the work they were proposing.

  18. Wait – Alaskans agree with a dress code? I thought that if your bunny boots were clean, that was good enough for polite company. What is happening to my state?

  19. They shld get way more than 24 months. At least a decade. And as soon as they are out…..we know the how the story will continue.

  20. People on Assembly ARE NOT Doing their research BEFORE, as this has been since 2015, He was caught by the State of AK “from ever being authorized as a Medicaid provider, due to shady practices.” Covid or not, there WAS no reason for them to get what they scammed. Just who in the Assembly let this go thru w/o checking..I’d love to know just who didn’t their checking. They need to excuse themself from the Assembly..

  21. I hope whoever was investigating these alleged frauds are also looking into any suspicious bank deposits by any members of the Assembly!

    • Agreed, Andy.

      And as observed above, Garrett Elder is said to be getting 5 years for his theft of $30+ million, just 1 year per $6 million stolen: ‘

      Something is VERY wrong with how our government coddles these dirtbags.

  22. Hate to say it but /choke/ Pro Publica has an article about her and it doesn’t sound good for Mayor Dave or the Assembly for not vetting the two

    • The article clearly states the Assembly gave them the funds. That means the Assembly approved and gave them the funds without exercising proper business care and prudence, good judgment, or good decision making skills. The Assembly did it, Not the mayor. When the Assembly is giving out the funds, it is their responsibility to ensure the funds are being given out properly to legitimate sources and that the funds are spent correctly. They are not just there to play Santa Claus to their picks and blame the mayor if it goes wrong.

      • Sorry to say since I’m a fan of
        Mayor Dave but he also dropped the ball. From the /choke/ Pro Publica article. “Mavaega is a political supporter of embattled Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson, though the grant she received came before he took office. Bronson later appointed her to serve on the Anchorage Equal Rights Commission, which is tasked with investigating allegations of discrimination, and to serve as the business representative on the city housing and homelessness committee.” And from the same article “the state of Alaska had permanently banned the founder of the nonprofit, Rosalina Mavaega, from serving as a Medicaid provider in 2015. The punishment resulted from a medical assistance fraud investigation and remains in effect. Mavaega’s husband, Esau Fualema, who is a co-founder of House of Transformations, separately pleaded no contest to criminally negligent homicide in 2008 and failed a background check to work at Mavaega’s prior company.” C’mon Anchorage, we deserve better from both the Mayor and the assembly.

  23. I truthfully don’t even know where to being on the plethora of groups that abused these ARPA grants.
    I will stay on current topic of these folks at the House of Transformations. But I do have to wonder, when does our local Nigerian Prince get arrested? I do appreciate the Suzanne’s article on this topic because the ADN reported “one of the largest ARPA recipients”. Well these folks were 13th out of 64/65. Not really the top recipients now are they. Next this all occurred pre-Bronson in the Mayor’s Office. If you attended any meeting where they spoke and they ‘spoke” often, you have to ask how the ASSEMBLY, not Bronson gave them a penny. I NEVER heard a plan even mentioned by their leadership. They just used their 3 minutes, to chat “House of Transformations” at the community sessions on the Nav Center.
    Seriously, do ANY of the Assembly members do any due diligence prior to voting away MILLIONS of dollars?
    Make a call to a intended recipient, ask around town or have a coffee with the staff at the intended recipients operation?

    I hope these arrests are the first of MANY, in addition to our local Prince. We have many other ARPA recipients who are out of compliance and unaccountable to the MOA financial overseers. Where is the new youth homeless shelter for LGBTQ+ (xyzpdq) from Choosing Our Roots? (500K+) or the Shiloh conglomerate (Shiloh Baptist-Shiloh Comm Housing-Shiloh Comm Development) (aka the Parker’s show).

    I have no clear understanding of how the MOA gave MILLIONS to unknown entities with ZERO service deliv ery history. Why NOT fund the multi-year providers like Covenant House, Catholic Social Services, Salvation Army, American Red Cross, Food Bank of Alaska…to name just a few quality, local, long term non-profits.

  24. A couple of t’ings: is innocent until proven guilty by a jury of your peers of your visonage still a t’ing in this state? Has the state of AK EVER gotten ANY prosecution wrong but locked people up for life successfully? Do you know? I don’t know the details included in this brief summation. Do you? Has the state ever discriminated against individuals based upon one’s visage or appearance? Do you know? I don’t believe the state of AK has ever investigated, prosecuted and or punished itself for committing harmful, successful discriminatory practices in perpetuity to present in this divine state. Does the state obey unerring the US Constitution which is the Supreme Law of the Land in all instances and times?

  25. Mayor Bronson proudly corrected an Assembly member and declared “the Assembly appropriates the money, the Administration spends the money.” So Bronson gave the money to the crony family who he has appointed to high level jobs and commissions. The length and breadth of the corruption of this administration is almost beyond belief. I sincerely hope you Bronson defenders will sit down and relax a little after Bronson loses the next election by landslide.

    • Fact Check your statement please! Bronson statement is correct!!!
      In this case, 2021 Assembly appropriated the funds and Acting Mayor Austin-Quinn paid it out.
      Bronson was only a candidate when this occurred. This was May 2021. He did not ascend to the throne until July of 2021.

      These grants were ALL paid out by 15th of June…..most dollars were sent out with 10 days.

Comments are closed.