Former borough official sentenced in charity scam

Posted: Wednesday, June 27, 2001

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- A former North Slope Borough official who set up a phony charity that awarded him scholarships to study at Harvard has been sentenced to 60 days in jail.

Anthony Kesler, the borough's former chief of staff, was also given a three-year suspended sentence, ordered to pay $15,000 in restitution and to perform 200 hours of community service.

Kesler pleaded no contest last September to misapplication of funds, a felony. The sentence was handed down Tuesday in state superior court in Barrow.

Kesler was granted a gaming permit in January 1995 to sell pull-tabs under a charitable organization called the Nuvuk Democratic Club, according to court documents.

On his application for the permit, Kesler said Nuvuk was connected with the Democratic Party. He said proceeds from the sale of pull-tabs would go to political candidates, scholarships, community activities and needy families. His application said he would not receive any compensation.

Prosecutors said Kesler benefited from the scheme in a number of ways, including awarding himself $15,000 in scholarships to study government at Harvard University in 1995 and 1996..

The announcement of the scholarships in a local newspaper was the spark that led prosecutors to investigate.

In addition to the scholarships -- the only ones awarded by Nuvuk -- prosecutors said Kesler received $40,000 from gaming proceeds through his business, Pac-Rim, which had a contract to manage the pull-tab operation.

Kesler was charged in May 2000 with scheming to defraud and promoting gambling.

Patrick Cimino, former president of the Democratic Party's Browerville Precinct, was also charged with scheming to defraud and promoting gambling. Prosecutors said Cimino helped obtain signatures so Kesler could claim the minimum number of memberships required for the gaming license.

Cimino pleaded no contest to the misdemeanor charge of promoting gambling and agreed to testify against Kesler.

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