Despite conviction, UAF student wins student government seat

Posted: Monday, April 22, 2002

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- Kelsey Hough was convicted April 2 of counterfeiting $100 bills, but that didn't hurt his chances in student elections at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Two days after his conviction, the 19-year-old freshman was elected to the student senate, and his jump from perpetrator to legislator has not sat well with some fellow students.

Hough's brush with the law began in December 2000, when he gave $2,000 to Steven Hartman, 25, in exchange for pills that he thought was the drug Ecstasy. According to UAF police, the pills actually were breath mints.

In revenge for being duped, Hough and another man used a personal computer to print out a number of counterfeit $100 bills in February 2001 with the intent of using them to buy $4,700 worth of methamphetamine from Hartman.

''Basically what they did was scan in a $100 bill image to the hard drive and experiment with different types of paper,'' said prosecuting attorney Joe Bottini. ''They came up with a batch they ultimately tried to pass off.''

When fake bills surfaced in Fairbanks and North Pole, the U.S. Secret Service investigated. Hough and the other two men were indicted on various federal charges of conspiracy and of manufacturing and passing counterfeit money. Hartman was charged after he used the bills knowing they were counterfeit.

The three men agreed to plea deals on April 2. Hough pleaded guilty to one count of counterfeiting.

The three remained free on bond after their December 2001 indictment, and Hough continued at UAF, where he is studying music and political science.

In interviews with the Sun-Star, the UAF campus newspaper, and the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Hough said his run for senate was part of an effort to put his offenses behind him.

''These actions of the past are only something to be learned from,'' he said. ''I wouldn't say I'm trying to forget about it, but I'm trying to go in a different direction.

''I felt if I was going to be here, I should be as involved as possible,'' he said. ''I feel I can represent the student body very well.''

Half of the 20-member senate is elected each year. Hough tied for sixth among the 10 students elected. Bylaws require that students have a minimum 2.0 grade point average, but do not address criminal convictions.

At a meeting last week, student senators affirmed Hough's election but discussed adding a ''fitness of candidacy'' clause to the senate bylaws.

Hough's senate term would begin in the fall semester. The issue will be moot if he is sentenced to prison and does not attend school.



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