According to ABC News, the Alaskan Bush People family patriarch Billy Brown and his 31-year-old son, Joshua “Bam” Brown, were sentenced yesterday to 30 days in jail for allegedly lying and applying for Alaska PFD (Permanent Fund Dividend) payments that they weren’t qualified for. Both men pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor. Billy, who is 63-years-old and in poor health, broke his silence and released a statement to the media today.
“Alaska’s dividend program has specific requirements for the length of time in the state, and the reasons for being out of Alaska. Because of the way we live our lives and the way we often unconventionally travel, I didn’t keep good track of our movements. I accept full responsibility for filing for benefits without confirming that we met the requirements… We are committed to living in Alaska for the long term and we respect the state’s rules. I thought it best to settle to put this behind us.”
The Alaska Dispatch News reported that as part of a plea deal, Billy and Joshua Brown were sentenced to 180 days, but will only be required to serve 30 days. They both pled guilty to just one misdemeanor count of second-degree unsworn falsification. Charges against the rest of the Brown family have been dropped. Judge Pallenberg did mention to Billy and Joshua Brown a couple of other options as an alternative to jail, however. They can go to a halfway house or be equipped with an electronic monitoring device. Officials with the state’s Department of Corrections will have the final say on how the sentences for Billy and Joshua Brown will be carried out, Pallenberg said.
What did you think of the show last night? pic.twitter.com/Gy6t1uBIKz— Alaskan Bush People (@AlaskanBushPPL) December 31, 2015
A previous plea deal for Billy and Joshua Brown was rejected because Juneau Superior Court Judge Philip Pallenberg felt that it was important for some jail time to be served. Besides spending time behind bars, which will be most likely served sometime in April, Billy Brown was fined $10,000, and his son will pay $2,000 in fines. Joshua Brown asked that he be allowed to serve his father’s time as well, but his request was not granted. AP shared that Billy and Joshua Brown’s sentences also includes restitution, community service, and probation. The family will not be eligible to receive future checks from Alaska’s oil wealth fund. In total, the Brown’s received $20,938 in PFD checks that they did not qualify for.
Alaska Dispatch News reported back on October 22, 2014, that a Juneau grand jury originally charged six of the family members with a total of 60 counts of first-degree unsworn falsification, including first and second-degree theft, according to documents filed on October 3, 2014. At that time, Billy Brown faced 24 of those charges, which are linked to the PFD applications that were submitted from 2010 to 2013, and for the theft of more than $13,000 in dividend money. Other family members facing charges included Amora Brown, Joshua Brown, Solomon Brown, Gabriel Brown, and Noah Brown.
Alaskan Bush People just wrapped up another season, and during the season finale, it was revealed that Billy Brown has suffered from seizures and that they are increasing in frequency and severity. The family was forced to move from their home on Chichagof Island in the Alaskan wilderness to Seattle, Washington, so he could receive proper care and treatment. Recently the family has been in California, and Billy Brown called in from San Juan Capistrano to attend the court hearing. He explained that he couldn’t attend in person because of his ongoing health issues. The other five members of the family did not explain where they were calling from.
So what do you think about the sentences Billy and Joshua Brown received? Is the judgment fair or too lenient? Leave your comments, thoughts and opinions below.
[Image via Alaskan Bush People/Facebook, cropped and resized]