Alaska Man Monday - Money, Mysteries, and Moose

Alaska Man Monday. (Credit: Ward Clark)

Our upcoming week in the Great Land will be interesting, as an old family friend is here for a visit. It’s always fun showing people around Alaska for the first time. This particular old friend is coming from the East Coast and is a city fellow, and he’s interested in seeing wild Alaskans in their natural habitat. I’m guessing he’s in for a dose or two of culture shock – but he’ll get over it.

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Part of what makes Alaska a great place to live, aside from the lack of taxation, which is theft – no sales tax in the borough, no state income tax, no state corporate tax – is the Permanent Fund Dividend (PFD.) The PFD is great. But of course, some people will try to game it.

State prosecutors say a woman faces more than two dozen felony charges after she fraudulently filed for four years of Alaska Permanent Fund Dividends for her and her five children.

Court records show Otaota Mokoma, 35, charged with 24 counts related to falsifying records in the case, spanning from 2018 to 2021, plus one count each of first-degree theft and scheme to defraud.

According to a charging document against Mokoma, fraud investigators with the state Permanent Fund Dividend Division got a tip in July 2023 about her PFD filings. An examination determined that she had received more than $25,000 in fraudulent dividends from 2018 to 2020, after online filings for those years which were geolocated to Utah.

Hah! The filings were “geolocated” to Utah. Never, ever underestimate technology.

Alaska Man score: 1.75 of 5 moose nuggets. Points for being stupid and getting caught. Demerits for ripping off Alaska.


See Related: Fakes, Fakes, More Fakes: Texas Democrat Arrested for Sending Himself Bogus Racist Messages

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Next, a fouled anchor in Herring Cove led to an interesting find: Sunken ship discovered?

On June 9, a mariner fouled his anchor in Herring Cove. Every time he tried to move the anchor, a little oil sheen and debris would pop up.

“He called us to check and make sure that there wasn’t any known debris in the area, and to try to see if there was a known snag,” said Petty Officer First Class Heather Darce in an interview with KCAW. Darce is a marine science technician with the Coast Guard’s Marine Safety Detachment in Sitka.

“We were able to check local charts, [and] there was nothing down there that was charted,” Darce said.

Darce says the mariner then hired a local diver to help retrieve his anchor. In doing so, the diver discovered a sunken boat, an 80-foot wooden vessel, attached to a smaller boat. The boat’s sinking hadn’t been reported to the Coast Guard. But they were able to find its vessel number and name.

“So the Dragon Lady is the last name that she held, but the boat was actually built in the ’40s and went through a bunch of different iterations,” Darce said.

Read the whole thing for an interesting piece of history; this was a World War 2 Coast Guard patrol boat, retired, and refitted several times before sinking into 80 feet of cold water.

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Alaska Man score: 5 moose nuggets for the intrepid sorts who went down into the gloom to investigate the remains of the Dragon Lady; zero for the knucklehead who allowed it to sink there.


See Related: As the RMS Titanic Sank, a Father Told His Little Boy, 'See You Later.' But Then...


And finally: Alaska Men Rescue Baby Moose. This is one of the most Alaska things that can happen.

Spencer Warren, who works for Destination Alaska Adventure Co., heard a noise that he initially believed belonged to a bird when he arrived to work at Beluga Lake in Homer around 6:30 a.m. on Friday, the Associated Press reported.

When heading out to the dock to prepare a floatplane for a trip that day, he noticed the noise wasn't coming from a bird, but a moose calf that was stuck between the floats of the plane and the dock.

And then:

When officers arrived at the dock, one used his police cruiser to block off the mama moose while another officer and Warren began pulling the calf from the water, according to Homer police Lt. Ryan Browning.

Though one of the calf's legs was stuck across the top of the plane's float, the rescuers were still able to pull the moose safely from the water.

"You know, kind of thankfully, he wasn’t moving so that it made the rescue a little bit easier," Warren said. "We just lifted him straight out and, put him on the dock there."

An officer helped the calf stand up on the boardwalk and watched it reunite with its mother.

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So, a happy ending all around. This is a relief because a surprising number of moose calves don’t live through their first year; it’s usually winter or predators that get them, not docks and floatplanes, but, well, this is Alaska.

Alaska Man score: 5 of 5 moose nuggets. Well done, all involved.


See Related: Vacation Season Cautions: Large Animals Can Be Dangerous


Now, then, an Alaskan’s look at national politics – and video locations.

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