Former hockey association treasurer makes first court appearance
Accused of stealing $180,000 from a local youth hockey league, 33-year-old Chugiak resident Jennifer Suchan made her first appearance in Anchorage District Court Friday morning.
Suchan, a former volunteer treasurer for the Mustang Hockey Association, faces felony charges of first-degree theft and scheme to defraud, according to court records. While she intends to fight the charges, according to her lawyer, assembling the facts of the case – involving 18 bankers’ boxes of financial statements — is no small task, he said.
“It’s going to take quite some time,” Anchorage criminal defense attorney Robert Herz told Judge David Wallace.
Suchan, who declined comment, is next scheduled to appear in court August 24.
The Friday morning arraignment was one of the latest chapters in a legal process that began in mid June. After MHA president Joey Merrick discovered “serious problems” with the association’s bank account, the Anchorage Police Department began investigating and Suchan was charged shortly thereafter, according to APD.
In the crowded basement courtroom Friday morning, Suchan sat quietly while Wallace set her next court date and conditions of release. The judge prohibited her from leaving state without permission or coming into contact with MHA board members — though her children are still permitted to play for MHA teams.
While the judge and the attorney discussed the next steps in the case, two women wearing MHA logos sat and listened in the back of the gallery. Michelle Moore, the hockey association’s volunteer secretary, said she came to watch the proceedings: She wanted Suchan to know the hockey community was watching, she said. They’d volunteered alongside each other for years, Moore said, and the alleged theft was “a personal blow.”
“To see that someone could potentially do this – it’s hurtful,” Moore said. “I’m just hoping we get a good outcome.”
Contact Star reporter Kirsten Swann at firstname.lastname@example.org.