Former borough official pleads no contest in charity scam case

Posted: Friday, September 15, 2000

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- Anthony Kesler, the North Slope Borough's former chief of staff who is accused of running a phony charity, pleaded no contest Friday, the Attorney General's office said.

Kesler, who also was treasurer of the precinct, pleaded no contest to misapplication of funds, a felony. He is scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 12. He faces up to five years in jail and $50,000 in fines.

Kesler, who resigned from his $135,000 job in 1996, and Patrick Cimino, former president of the Democratic Party's Browerville Precinct, were charged in May with scheming to defraud, a felony, and promoting gambling.

Cimino pleaded no contest to the misdemeanor charge of promoting gambling. In exchange for that plea and for Cimino agreeing to testify against Kesler, the state dismissed the more serious charge of scheming to defraud.

Kesler reached no agreements with the state on his sentence, said Assistant Attorney General Helen Valkavich.

Kesler benefited from the scheme, which operated under the name Nuvuk Democratic Club, 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 that scholarship in a local newspaper was the spark that led to the investigation.

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