SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska

State keeps up its APB on the ABP



December 05, 2015
Saturday AM

Ketchikan, Alaska -
Well, well, well.

Aren't we all just on pins and bullpine-needles waiting to hear how things turn out for our favorite Alaska part-time residents, the Alaskan Bush People?

jpg  Dave Kiffer

While the rest of America continues to tune in their program in droves - five million viewers per episode according to the Discovery Channel - we are more interested to find out what happens in their Permanent Fund Dividend fraud cause.

Yes, despite the fact that the Browns profess disdain for any sort of "civilization," and continue to claim they are living "wild" they apparently still feel a need for those yearly infusions of petro-bucks that the rest of us more civilized Alaskans claim.

And that's okay.

Lots of folks in Alaska live "off the grid" but still manage to slog their way through the wilderness to that mailbox in early October to pick up the PFD check. The government says you are entitled to it, so you are. No matter how much you hate the "guvrmunt."

Of course, since nothing is quite as it is seems - or at least how it the portrayed - with the Bush People, there is some question about whether they are in Alaska enough to qualify for the PFD.

Just so you we're clear, nine family members times $2,000 would be around $18,000 in PFD money to the family this year and they are accused of at least three years of fraudulent filings, so we're looking a nice bit of change, especially for a family that is portrayed in the show as barely having two sticks to rub together and must "barter" dead humpies for dental work.

Of course, that is in addition to whatever "fees" the family gets to appear on "Alaskan Bush People." No one it saying what that is but since it came out recently that contestants on another "reality" show, "Dancing With the Stars," get at least $200,000 in appearance money, you have to figure that the ABP pays the nine Browns enough to afford a nice split level ranch house in Texas.

Which is allegedly where most of them were while they were filing for Alaska PFDs during those years.

Now, being out of state doesn't disqualify you from PFDs. You can be gone up to 180 days under certain circumstances. Apparently "I prefer to be in Texas" is not one of those circumstances, so the state of Alaska has charged several members of the self described "wolf pack" with dividend fraud.

The parties involved thought they had reached a resolution last month.

Some of the ABP would plead guilty to a couple of counts, pay a hefty fine (which would indicate they have some money stashed under the rocks in the campsite) and do a bunch of hours of community service. Natch, there had to be a stipulation that the family could not film their community service time as part of their program, which is too bad because I would have loved to see the episode where the Bush People pick up trash along Glacier Highway.

Then a judge tossed out the deal. He said he thought that anyone guilty of permanent fund fraud should probably spend at least 30 days in jail.

That's an interesting concept. I think a lot of Alaskans would be surprised by the idea of going to jail after breaking the law. Just another reason to hate the "guvrmunt."

But on hearing that jail could be involved some of the NFOABP (Not Friends of the Alaskan Bush People) got really excited. Now this was potentially "must see TV."

Will "Bear"use his hands to dig the family out of Lemon Creek Correctional Center?

Will "Billy" barter a dead seagull he caught in the recreation yard for some contraband chewing tobacco?

Will "Ami"organize the female inmates into a deer hide stitching consortium?

Will "Bam Bam" live up to his name spend most of the month in segregation?

Will "Rain" finally get her teeth fixed, courtesy of the State of Alaska?

Will the ominous music play every time members of the family are expected to conform to someone else's rules?

Alas, if any family members spend time in Alaskan correctional facilities, it probably won't show up on Alaskan Bush People. Because that would allow them to continue to profit from their alleged misdeeds.

That's too bad, because at times Lemon Creek has an overflow dormitory that houses prisoners in what amounts to a great big tent. Having the Alaskan Bush People spend a real Alaskan winter outdoors like that - rather than in Texas - would probably be the most appropriate punishment. And wouldn't we all love to see the episode where the ABP confront zero degrees and a 60 mph Taku wind?

Of course, there is the chance that all this legal wrangling could lead to charges being dropped entirely. It sounds as if some of the government's case against the Browns is based on some potentially unreliable testimony from some sketchy people. Hey, when you run with a "wolf pack" there is a good chance you might get bit. Even in Texas.

Anyway, as long as the show continues to get ratings, a little off-camera legal business will probably not affect the ABP in any significant way. They will continue to stumble-bum their way around The Last Frontier, making living off the land look like something any old idiot could do.

After all, how could five million television viewers who only know Alaska as that little state down in the corner of the map next to Hawaii possibly be wrong?

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Dave Kiffer is a freelance writer living in Ketchikan, Alaska.
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