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Two Savoonga Sisters Sentenced for Embezzling Disaster Relief Funds

Two Savoonga sisters were sentenced for their embezzlement of funds from that community while working with the Non-Profit, Kawarak Incorporated between April 2011 and May 2012, Acting U.S. Attorney Bryan Schroder announced on Thursday.

Sylvia Toolie, age 60, and her sister, Peggy Akeya, age 57, were sentenced by Chief U.S. District Judge Timothy M. Burgess on Wednesday.

“Toolie was sentenced yesterday to serve eight months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release. Akeya was sentenced on Tuesday, Sept. 12, to a term of five years’ probation, three months’ home confinement, and 120 hours of community service. Toolie and Akeya were ordered to pay restitution to the Native Village of Savoonga in the amounts of $69,563.07 and $14,855.81, respectively,” revealed Schroder.

The investigation into the embezzlement had its beginnings in November of 2011, when a check made out to creditors from the tribe, bounced because of insufficient funds, prompting the creditor to make inquiries. It was then that the investigation by the FBI and the Department of Urban Development’s Office of Inspector General discovered that monies that were allocated to Savoonga for repairs of houses and public buildings damaged during the December 2010 storm, found their way into the pockets of the sisters and others through unauthorized checks.

“Judge Burgess also ordered Akeya to record statements for a public service announcement to raise awareness of the consequences that follow from embezzling tribal government or other public funds,” Schroder said.