Former village president makes deal with feds
Lori Ann Clum admits embezzling funds from Tatitlek coffers
Lori Ann Clum, also known in Valdez as Sue Johnson, pleaded guilty in federal court to embezzling over $100,000 in funds from Tatitlek Native Village. Clum, former president of the Tatitlek Native Village, reached a plea deal with prosecutors in a case that villagers complained dragged on from the years 2007-09.
Clum could serve up to five years in federal prison, with a mandatory three-years probation upon release, according to court documents. Formal sentencing is set for January, 2014.
Clum was arrested by the FBI last March after she was indicted on numerous theft charges. The charges against Clum stemmed from accusations the 46-year-old woman, who is also known as Lori Ann Blake, defrauded village coffers to the tune of nearly $600,000 in late 2007 through 2009.
Clum’s brother, James Kramer of Valdez, was also named in a single count after the FBI alleged Clum gave her brother $20,000 in funds she embezzled from village accounts.
Kramer pleaded guilty to single count of “Willful Failure to File Income Tax Return.”
The statutory penalties in Kramer’s plea deal calls for a one-year imprisonment, a maximum fine of $100,000 and one year of supervised probation.
Before the FBI stepped into the picture, the village government had been locked in a long-running civil dispute with Clum and her husband, Daniel Clum. The couple fought attempts by village officials to collect a $150,000 civil settlement between them and the IRA Village Council.
David Totemoff, current village president, said that after Clum emptied the village bank accounts, fuel invoices and IRS tax bills went unpaid, leaving village residents at cold and broke. He claimed the fuel company refused to barge fuel to the roadless village, located in the Tatitlek Narrows of Prince William Sound, approximately 25 miles southeast of Valdez and 30 air-miles north of Cordova. The IRS also demanded $38,000 in back taxes, with the threat of dissolving the village council if the debt was not settled.
As the years passed and Clum returned to the village with the civil penalties unpaid and rumors of bootlegging activity running rampant, many questioned whether justice would ever be served.
Before Clum’s FBI arrest last spring, she was charged in January 2013 with numerous felony charges in state court which included bootlegging liquor in the dry village and selling narcotics, including meth and oxycontin, and felon in possession of firearms.
In March, 2009, Clum, under the name Lori Ann Johnson, was arrested at Merrill Field in Anchorage while boarding a flight to Tatitlek. Court documents say troopers discovered her in possession of prescription narcotics without documentation.
A plea deal was made in the 2009 case and Clum served probation.
According to the Valdez district court docket, Clum’s state case is set for a calendar call December 2.