ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — An educational organization that promotes the oil, gas, mining and timber industries in Alaska has sued its former executive director, accusing her of stealing more than $200,000.
Alaska Resource Education filed the civil complaint Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Alaska against Michelle Brunner, who led the organization until 2017.
The complaint accuses Brunner of stealing money through unauthorized payroll and bonuses, improper credit card charges for personal expenses, and direct bank transfers.
The organization is seeking $187,000 in funds it has identified and an estimated additional $50,000 that has not yet quantified from Brunner and her husband, the complaint said.
“We have no comment at this time,” Michelle Brunner told the Anchorage Daily News in a text message.
The complaint alleges the couple, who now live in Arizona, shared a checking account that received some of the stolen funds that were used to pay for vacations, wine club memberships and a house.
The complaint comes after some questionable records were discovered when Brunner left, group executive director Ella Ede said.
“We want to reassure our donors, our educational partners and the public that we have done everything possible to ensure the organization’s financial integrity and fiduciary responsibility going forward,” Ede said.
She said the group filed a report with Anchorage police and an investigation was opened.
Alaska Resource Education teaches thousands of public school students from elementary to high school about the state’s natural resources, Ede said. Its board of directors include employees from some of the state’s industry leaders, including ConocoPhillips, Usibelli Coal Mine and Hilcorp, along with Alaska Airlines and the Alaska Railroad.