Former school board president charged - Must Read Alaska
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Saturday, November 27, 2021
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Former school board president charged

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The State Department of Law has charged former Anchorage School Board president Elisa Vakalis with four counts relating to theft, fraud, and falsifying business records discovered in her work as an independent bookkeeper for the Eagle River Alehouse, the Matanuska Brewing Downtown, the Anchorage Alehouse, the Matanuska Brewing Company, and Alaska Keg.

After Vakalis was fired as a bookkeeper in 2020, owner Matthew Tomter hired an accountant to do a forensic review of the books of the company. Accountant Melissa Steen found issues with the books of three companies. None were founds relating to the Matanuska Brewing Company or Alaska Keg.

According to the charging documents, Vakalis was hired as an independent contractor but paid herself as an employee and awarded herself extra pay and a pay raise. The amount stolen is reported at $9,379.

Count II involves a class B felony of theft, and the value of property or services was set at more than $25,000.

Count II involves fraud, false entries into the business records.

Vakalis is also accused of having written several checks to petty cash, although the restaurants do not use a petty cash system. There were several petty cash checks for which there were no receipts. The checks were signed on the back by Leanne Parsons, the general manager of the Anchorage Alehouse, who said the signatures were forgeries. Between the three restaurants involved, the amount of petty cash theft is $5,749.

The accountant also found two checks in the accounts made out to Vakalis. Upon closer look, it appeared that Vakalis had made a change in the Quickbooks entry after writing and cashing the checks, to indicate they were made out to vendors.

Additionally, the forensic audit found various credit card charges; it appears Vakalis was paying for her divorce proceedings with the proceeds of the business, and for repairs on her GMC Yukon. Those and other charges that were questionable amounted to $7,079 of unauthorized credit card charges.

In April, she lost her seat on the school board to Carl Jacobs, in a vote of 50.3 to 47.9. She had first been elected to the school board in 2015 as Elisa Snelling but has since remarried and changed her name.

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • Wow, she is qualified for the Anchorage assembly.

  • She’s a liberal.

    • Suzanne — Again.
      No amount of deleting comments will change the fact that humans, whatever their political persuasion, station, race, or religion are capable of distinguishing right from wrong, doing good OR evil.

        • I’ve made that 5% twice now! The offensive topics were sexual deviance and abortion.

          • Maybe you should stop participating in both then.

  • Yikes. It pays to know your own books even if you have hired a bookkeeper. Glad this was caught in a fairly timely manner as could have been far worse! Sad that she made such choices. A career destroyed.

  • I was taught in Business Management that you NEVER allow a bookkeeper/accountant access to cash, checking or credit/debit cards. That is the Treasurer’s job. Ramey

  • 0% chance this is a first time grift. What did she have access to at the school board?

  • Looks like a good resume for a position in politics, spending other people’s money.

  • Liberals can’t survive in the private sector lmao

  • All in the name of equity I’m sure. Take from those who have and give to those who need it the most, yourself.

  • This will probably only be published here. Being a Democrat this will not be mentioned in mainstream media and left to die on the vine. She’ll pay restitution and get a suspended sentence.

    • Jim I actually saw this first on ADN, but she’s not on the school board at the moment and not likely to be buying an ad campaign for future public office.

  • How is this news? This is small potatoes compared to what goes on in the native corps, public unions and “non profits”.

    • It’s news because she stole a significant amount of money from small businesses to use for personal reasons and she was a publicly elected official. How is that not news? We have corruption from the ground up and that which is closest to you should be more important to you. We must do a better job of vetting.

      • You’re right. I stand corrected. Thank you.

    • Oh?

  • Really should learn to write better headlines. Elise (formerly Snelling) Vakalis may have been a previous ASD board member but what has her past to do with the state’s charges? …to rile up the Goppies.

    • LibraryKat, I think you misspelled her name. It’s Elisa, at least according to my records. This reader does care that she was a school board member because this reader donated to her campaign once. Troll better.

    • What are Goppies? I’ve never heard of this before. Is this something you’ve made up all on your own or is it actually a gynecological condition you’re being treated for? Seriously though, please respond with a phonetic prounciation, definition, and provenance of this word. It shouldn’t be too hard for you, right? After all, you think you’re a librarian.

  • There are no “liberals” on the left. If you understood the history of your country, you would know that Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and most of the finding fathers were liberals. Despotic democrats cannot be liberals, by definition.

  • Gotta wonder when you find one rotten piece of fruit in the basket how many others are starting to go bad too.

  • Is Elisa Vakalis related to George Vakalis in any way?

    • Daughter in Law.

  • Makes one wonder what sort of d-baggery she may have been involved in on the school board. Leopards never lose their spots.

  • What was Anchorage thinking electing a bookkeeper to School Board? She didn’t meet the qualification. She didn’t hold the correct Education background just as the Assembly has criticized Sami Graham for not having a Master of Library Science degree.

    I am just pointing that little detail out how prejudice some people on the Assembly are being about using this argument while the community elects and hires employees missing qualifications all the time.

    • Berkowitz had no problem hiring a non-engineer to be building official in the permit department. That’s a first for Anchorage. Why did Berkowitz hire a non-engineer? Because nobody wants to work for the city as an administrator when rank and file make far more money than you do.

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