Former hockey association treasurer plans not guilty plea on theft charges

Tuesday, July 18, 2017 - 11:13
  • Nesbett Courthouse in Anchorage on June 20, 2017. (Star photo by Kirsten Swann)

A Chugiak woman accused of stealing roughly $180,000 from a local youth hockey association plans to plead not guilty during a scheduled arraignment Friday, July 14 in Anchorage.

The attorney for Jennifer Suchan said Tuesday cases such as his client’s aren’t always what they first appear, and urged the public to hold off on judging Mrs. Suchan before she’s given due process.

“I think everyone needs to wait until all the information becomes available,” said Robert Herz, an Anchorage criminal defense attorney representing Suchan.

According to court records, Suchan, 33, is scheduled to be arraigned on one count each of first-degree theft and scheme to defraud. Both are Class B felonies.

Suchan was arrested last month after Mustang Hockey Association president Joey Merrick said he discovered serious irregularities with the association’s finances during a search of MHA’s online bank records. Merrick contacted police, who conducted an investigation that allegedly found Suchan — who was at that time the association’s volunteer treasurer — had siphoned off roughly $180,000 for her own personal use beginning in August of 2015. Police said they believe Suchan used the money to pay bills.

Suchan was let go as the hockey association treasurer after the allegations came to light.

According to Alaska National Guard director of public affairs Lt. Col. Candis Olmstead, Suchan is a civilian who is employed by the Guard as an auditor, meaning Suchan “conducts reviews and risk analyses, consults, advises, and liases with external audit agencies,” Olmstead wrote in an email.

Olmstead said Suchan does not have access to government funds in her position as an auditor. She said the Guard conducted an internal review after Suchan’s arrest and found “that the risk of possibility for similar circumstances with our organization is low.”

Olmstead said Suchan is still employed by the Guard, but has been on unpaid leave since her arrest by Anchorage police on June 26.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated Olmstead said Suchan has been on paid leave. Olmstead said Suchan has been on leave without pay since the date of her arrest.

Contact Star editor Matt Tunseth at [email protected] or (907) 205-0082

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