Feds close in on former village president
Agents also arrest brother, also named in charging documents
Photo courtesy VPD
Lori Ann Clum, aka Sue Johnson, in an undated mug shot from the Valdez Police Dept
Lori Clum, former president of the Tatitlek Village IRA Council, was arrested by the FBI last Wednesday after being indicted on theft charges. Clum’s brother, James Kramer of Valdez, was also named in one count.
The current charges against Clum stem from accusations the 45-year-old woman, also known as Sue Johnson and Lori Ann Blake, defrauded village coffers to the tune of nearly $600,000 in late 2007 through 2008.
Federal prosecutors said last week that Clum is charged with misappropriating more than $200,000 from the Village, including $20,000 that she allegedly gave to her brother, Kramer.
“Everybody had a sigh of relief,” current president David Totemoff said in a telephonic interview Monday.
The Village government has been in a long-running civil dispute with Clum and her husband, Daniel Clum. The couple has fought recent attempts by village officials to collect a $150,000 civil settlement between the IRA Village Council and the couple. The civil settlement and Clum’s current federal charges both stem from accusations made during Clum’s council presidency in 2007 through 2008.
Totemoff said Clum’s arrest by the FBI was long-time in coming and many residents questioned whether or not justice would be served in the long-troubled relationship between Clum and the Village.
Totemoff said when an FBI agent told him Clum had been arrested, he could hardly believe his ears.
“I asked her to say it again,” he said. Then he asked if he could dance.
Federal prosecutors are alleging Clum paid herself duplicate paychecks, made questionable cash withdrawals and wrote checks to herself and her brother.
This in not Clum’s first brush with the law; nor is it the only crime Villagers feel Clum committed against its residents.
Clum made headlines last January after she was arrested by Alaska State Troopers for bootlegging in the dry village. She was later indicted and charged with 21 felony counts of trafficking in liquor, misconduct with controlled substances, intent to sell narcotics, and weapons charges, including five counts of felon in possession of a firearm.
In March, 2009, Clum, under the name Lori Ann Johnson, was arrested at Merrill Field in Anchorage while boarding a flight to Tatitlekafter troopers found her to be in possession of prescription narcotics without documentation.
Clum posted $5,000 and later reached a plea bargain agreement with prosecutors and pleaded guilty to one felony count of misconduct involving a controlled substance with intent to distribute. A second felony drug charge was dropped and she received 30 months of probation.
Photo courtesy VPD
James Kramer, undated arrest photo.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Aunnie Steward told reporters that if Clum is convicted, the maximum sentence for each of the current theft counts can be as high as five years in prisonand a fine as high as $250,000.
Tatitlek is a Native Village with a community of 83 people on Prince William Sound, about 25 miles southwest of Valdez. It relies heavily on funding from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the Department of Health and Human Services.
Totemoff said the Village suffered numerous hardships after Clum’s alleged theft from its coffers; a lack of money delayed fuel shipments and unpaid IRS demands further drained Village resources.
“It’s almost like she’s mocking the system,” Totemoff said in a February interview after Clum’s bootlegging arrest.