Friday, November 11, 2016
The July 2016 Alaska Supreme Court decision tells the story of conduct that led to a consent sanction there
On December 30, 2010, Pohland and a friend entered a store with shopping carts and reusable shopping bags. The women obtained a wire cutter from the hardware section of the store and used the wire cutter to cut security tags off of shoes. The women put the shoes into the reusable shopping bags and returned the empty shoe boxes to the shelves. They added items from throughout the store to the bags. They concealed a total of $1,020.08 of merchandise in the reusable bags and combined the bags into one cart. Pohland's friend pushed the cart out of the store without paying for the merchandise. Pohland accompanied her.
Store policy is to stop and arrest the person pushing the cart. Pohland's friend was detained. Pohland was allowed to leave the premises before police arrived.
Surveillance video documented the actions of the two women. Persons watching the video during a monthly meeting between Loss Prevention employees of the store and Anchorage Police Department detectives were able to identify Pohland as a good friend of and current tenant living in an apartment at the house of the woman who had been detained.
At the time of the shoplifting incident, Pohland was an attorney at the Alaska Department of Law and her friend was working for the Alaska State Employees Association (ASEA).
On September 9, 2011, Pohland pleaded guilty to concealment of merchandise in violation of AS 11.46.220(a) and AS 11.46.220(c)(2)(A), a misdemeanor shoplifting offense.
The court sentenced Pohland to 90 days in jail with 90 days suspended. She was ordered to perform 100 hours of community service and placed on a three-year probation.
There were other violations involving misuse of her official position as a state government attorney.
As an assistant attorney general Pohland provided legal advice and counsel to the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development. In June 2010, the staff of the Alaska Labor Relations Agency (ALRA) met with Pohland to discuss their concerns about potentially forged interest cards used to support a demand for an election to organize several hundred employees of the University of Alaska. The staff discussed their suspicions that Pohland's friend was involved in the submission of forged interest cards.
Pohland provided legal advice to ALRA staff on multiple occasions between June 9 and June 24, 2010. At trial, two assistant attorneys general and the former assistant commissioner for the Department of Labor and Workforce Development testified that Pohland consulted with them about the forged interest cards and how to handle the issue. At the time she provided legal advice to the ALRA staff, Pohland engaged in regular text messages with her friend about the petition prepared by the ASEA.
In August 2010, a former employee of the ASEA notified Alaska State Troopers to report her concerns about the allegedly forged interest cards. Following a criminal investigation, the State charged Pohland and her friend with criminal misconduct. On February 25, 2013, Pohland's friend was convicted of forgery in the second degree, a class C felony.
On October 21, 2015, following trial, a jury convicted Pohland of official misconduct, a class A misdemeanor. She was sentenced to 120 days in jail with 120 days suspended. She was fined $5,000 with the fine to be offset by restitution due to ALRA on August 21, 2018. Pohland was placed on probation for three years.
During investigation of Pohland for official misconduct, evidence was discovered that Pohland and her friend engaged in multiple shoplifting thefts and that the single act of theft when she was caught was not an isolated act as Pohland represented to the court.
ADN.com reported on the official misconduct charges.
A former assistant attorney general and her union organizer friend are facing criminal charges in an alleged 2010 scam to inflate the number of state employees interested in joining a union.
It's not the first time the pair have been named together in a charging document.
Last January, Anchorage police charged former state labor lawyer Erin Pohland, 32, and ex-union organizer Skye Rubadeau McRoberts, 31, with stealing more than $1,000 in shoes from a Fred Meyer store. Both later pleaded guilty.
The current charges accuse McRoberts of felony forgery and business record falsification and Pohland with misdemeanor official misconduct, all related to an effort by the state's largest union to organize University of Alaska employees.
KTVA Alaska reported on the disposition of these charges.
Judge Jo-Ann Chung sentenced Pohland to a $5,000 fine and a suspended jail sentence. Although she faced up to a year in jail, Chung said jail time was not warranted even though Pohland was convicted of a “serious charge,” the DOL statement says. Pohland was also placed on informal probation for three years.
“Judge Chung determined that a suspended imposition of sentence was not warranted, which leaves Pohland with a permanent record for her conviction,” the DOL says. “Judge Chung explained that this case was about ‘public trust’ of the Alaska Attorney General’s Office.”