Former Anchorage School Board president charged with stealing thousands from local brewing company

Anchorage School District Superintendent Deena Bishop and Anchorage School Board member Elisa Vakalis in July 2020. (Tegan Hanlon/Alaska Public Media)

Former Anchorage School Board President Elisa Vakalis has been charged with six felonies, including fraud, theft and falsifying business records, according to court filings.

Vakalis allegedly stole about $26,700 as a contract bookkeeper for several businesses.

According to a charging document filed in state Superior Court on Thursday, Vakalis was hired in February 2019 to do accounting and payroll for a group of businesses: Eagle River Alehouse, Matanuska Brewing, Anchorage Alehouse and Alaska Keg.

The charges say Vakalis was fired a year later, and after a subsequent review of books for the restaurants, a new accountant found issues with the bookkeeping for Eagle River Alehouse, Matanuska Brewing and the Anchorage Alehouse.

Vakalis paid herself as both an independent contractor and an employee of each restaurant including extra pay, bonuses and a pay raise, totaling more than $9,000, according to the charges.

Vakalis also stole more than $5,700 through writing several checks to “petty cash,” even though the restaurants did not have a petty cash system, according to the charges, which say in some cases she forged a manager’s signature.

And Vakalis allegedly wrote two checks to herself, one for $2,500 and another for $2,000, and then went into the restaurant’s record keeping system and changed records to reflect a vendor’s name, the charges say.

Vakalis also made more than $7,000 in unauthorized charges on a credit card, including a charge to a local law firm on behalf of Elisa Vakalis in her divorce proceedings and a charge for repairs on a 2013 GMC Yukon she owns, according to the charges.

Vakalis served on the Anchorage School Board for six years, and was school board president her final year. She lost a reelection bid this year to Carl Jacobs.

Reached on Friday, Vakalis declined to comment.

Editor’s note: This story was updated to reflect its correct byline. It was written by Mayowa Aina, not Casey Grove.

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