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Home » Criminal Law » Alaskan Bush People Guilty Of Theft And Fraud

Alaskan Bush People Guilty Of Theft And Fraud

alaskan-bush-people-fraudAlaskan Bush People kind of sounds like a horror movie about people who jump out of pine trees and eat hikers. Something Deliverance-ish. But for better or worse, Alaskan Bush People is much less exciting: reality television. Discovery Channel, you’ve done it again.

The show’s plot revolves around “a newly discovered family who was born and raised wild.” Apparently, one thing they’re wild about is money. Which is why their future is looking less like the deep Alaskan wilderness and a lot like prison.

Meet the Brown family! They’re just like you and me, except they live in the, uh, bush. And two of them are frauds who stole nearly $21,000 from the state of Alaska by falsifying Permanent Fund dividend (PFD) applications. Yes, it’s true: the Alaskan Bush People failed to meet residency requirements for Alaska. In other words, the Brown family took a shitload of oil revenue that they didn’t deserve.

The fact that Alaskan Bush People robbed literally every citizen in the state isn’t funny. The fact that anybody considered “bush people” could also be called “white-collar criminals” is very funny. Theft and fraud charges are white-collar, right?

Redneck Reality TV: Boosting Walmart T-Shirt Sales Since 2012

Reality TV shows about wacky, backwoods families are very popular these days. Duck Dynasty is probably the most famous series within this sub-genre — even though the initial buzz has died down, those bearded duck hunters still retain their status as a household name. If you live in the southeast and haven’t seen a kid with a Duck Dynasty t-shirt, then you should probably go see an optometrist.

Naturally, other shows have tried to capitalize on the redneck-reality-TV-show niche over the past couple of years. Swamp People. Moonshiners. Sons Of Guns. Hillbilly Handfishin’. Bayou Billionaires. Lady Hoggers. Rocket City Rednecks. I could go on and I will: Here Comes Honey Boo Boo. Who in this great nation doesn’t know and love Honey Boo Boo?

We have to remember that the people on these shows, talents aside, are actors of Kardashian quality. Celebrities. Living in the bush is one thing, but starring in a reality TV show about living in the bush is another. We should also keep in mind that TV stars who are famous for living in the bush will probably not get away with saying they live somewhere else.

No “Get Out Of Jail Free” Card For Brown Family

In Monopoly, criminals can lighten their prison sentences by drawing the right chance card. In real-life America, things work a little differently. Board game rules are generally not recognized in the courtroom, even if the game is a classic and the players are on TV.

No, the rules we follow in society are not the same as those we follow on family game night. And this is a good thing. When you steal money from the real, actual government, there are real, actual consequences. If shoplifting jeans from Abercrombie is punished with jail, robbing every Alaskan resident should be punished based on the same standard. Philip Pallenberg,the judge for this case, feels similarly:

“I don’t think the Browns should be treated more harshly because they have a TV show… But they certainly shouldn’t be treated more leniently because of that either.”

That’s why he said “NO” when the Alaskan Bush People said “please don’t send us to jail.” They proposed a plea agreement that exchanged jail time for two years of probation, but Pallenberg was not having it. Because even though their tarnished brand is something of a punishment on its own, that doesn’t mean the Browns are exempt from legal consequences.

Still, the trial isn’t over, and in light of Alaska’s current financial struggles, it’s likely that things are going to get complicated when the Bush People return to the courtroom on December 3. The prosecutor, Lisa Kelley, has experience with even worse Permanent Fund dividend theft crimes, and has expressed concern over whether it’s worthwhile to drag out the trial:

“We are in a bit of a budget crisis in this state, and it would not be unreasonable to say we need to focus our resources in the appropriate direction.”

For now, we’ll just have to wait until December to find out exactly what the future holds for the Brown family.

How Are Theft And Fraud Crimes Punished?

Tennessee law regarding theft and fraud crimes are either more severe than Alaska’s or the Alaskan Bush People were indeed treated leniently. Or they almost were. That was what that “get out of jail free” proposal tried to accomplish — in addition to exemption from prison sentences, the Browns tried to get away with misdemeanor charges instead of felony.

But in Tennessee, theft via fraud is only a misdemeanor if the stolen property amounts to $500 or less. The Alaskan Bush People took more than that. A lot more. If they’d stolen $21,000 in the Volunteer State, they’d be looking at a Class C felony.

We can’t all expect to be treated like the Alaskan Bush People. Most of us aren’t famous reality TV stars. For one thing, the Brown family probably entered the courtroom with celebrity-tier legal representation, which certainly isn’t something the average person can get easily.

Famous people get so much slack! Let’s not forget the Dance Moms star who got charged with bankruptcy fraud last month, only to end up getting away with it. Should this discourage you when you’re shopping for lawyers? Nope. Here’s why:

Skilled Nashville Attorneys Have Affordable Prices.

At Turner Law Offices, P.C., our team has years of experience working with clients across a broad range of circumstances related to theft and fraud crimes. If you’re facing accusations or pursuing damages in an Alaskan Bush People type of case, your situation is far from hopeless.

Not only do our lawyers have the knowledge and resources to provide the most efficient route towards a satisfactory resolution, we also have the means to help you afford it. Each one of our clients gets a Free Initial Consultation, during which you can meet with a skilled attorney who’s ready and waiting to get you started on a winning case.

Call today, or go online to schedule an appointment without paying a dime. Justice is out there — the sooner you take action, the higher your chances of finding it.

(615) 259-2660

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