Trial date set for founder of Boxes for Heroes

  • By DAN BALMER
  • Monday, September 22, 2014 10:50pm
  • News

After more than two years since his indictment, a trial date has been set in the case against Frank Roach, organizer of the nonprofit Alaska Veterans Outreach Boxes for Heroes.

The Office of Special Prosecutions and Appeals alleges Roach did not use the hundreds of thousands of dollars donated by Alaskans to Boxes for Heroes to create care packages for U.S. troops overseas, but instead used the money to support his lifestyle and pay his employees.

In a status hearing Monday, Kenai Superior Court Judge Carl Bauman set Roach’s trial date for Dec. 15. Roach participated in the hearing telephonically, as did defense attorney Andrew Miller and prosecution with OSPA, Assistant Attorney General Robert Henderson.

Roach was charged with scheme to defraud, first-degree theft and seven counts of second-degree theft and arraigned on May 8, 2012. The state is pursuing the same charges for Boxes for Heroes.

Last August, OSPA opposed a motion from the defense to dismiss an indictment against Roach. The motion to dismiss, filed by Roach’s then defense attorney David Katz on July 17, claims the state mislead the Grand Jury about Boxes for Heroes non-profit and tax-exempt status and provided “incompetent and inaccurate testimony regarding the management of non-profits.”

The state refuted the claims in its opposition saying Roach didn’t apply for Boxes for Heroes tax exempt non-profit status until nearly two months after he and the organization were indicted, according to the opposition filed in court July 31, 2013.

The state presented evidence that 1,200 boxes were delivered to National Guard armories for shipment, but the state failed to present witness testimony on this evidence, according to the motion to dismiss the indictment. The investigating officer for the case interviewed a witness with the National Guard who claimed the National Guard received 2,000-4,000 boxes while Roach was “operating the program with other organizations” prior to Boxes for Heroes. “(This information) show(s) that Boxes for Heroes was not a fraud,” the motion states.

The OSPA refuted the accusation. The organization collected “hundreds of thousands of dollars,” but only donated 1,200 boxes, according to testimony by two witnesses who delivered packages to two different armories. That state claims the 2,000-4,000 boxes that were received while Roach was working with different organizations is not evidence that standing alone proves Roach is not guilty of the charges.

Bauman denied the motion to dismiss the indictment at a court hearing in February.

Henderson said Monday the state was ready for trial.

The trial has been delayed several times while Roach was receiving medical care in Wasilla and has gone through multiple changes in representation.

Bauman said Roach missed a representation hearing on Aug. 5 while he was in a hospital in Wasilla for a life-threatening condition.

On Sept. 5, Wasilla attorney Greg Parvin became the fourth attorney appointed to represent Roach. On Monday, Roach said he had not met with Parvin yet and wanted time to counsel. Miller represented Roach in the hearing on Parvin’s behalf.

Anchorage attorney Chris Cyphers, from Frontier Law Group, was first appointed to Roach’s case in May 2012 before he was dismissed by Roach and replaced by Mark Nunn in February 2013 on a limited entry of appearance. Nunn was brought in for a trial call and made a motion for a continuance.

Attorney Michael Rose, also from Frontier Law Group, represented Roach from October 2013 until Parvin replaced him earlier this month. According to court records, Cyphers, filed a motion for a representation hearing in July.

Cyphers was killed in a plane crash on Aug. 10 in Big Lake.

In a December 2012 court hearing, Bauman requested the Alaska Office of Public Advocacy represent the Boxes for Heroes organization. OPA argued a conflict of interest in their representation of Brian Altman, a witness in the case against Roach and the organization.

On Monday, Bauman said he is a friend of Timothy Reed, a witness who has testified to the Grand Jury in the Roach and Boxes for Heroes case. He said he didn’t believe the friendship is a conflict of interest in the case, but wanted it noted.

Boxes for Heroes had three founding members, but none of the others were charged.

Kenai Police Investigator Jeff Whannell led the investigation of Roach and his organization. Investigators interviewed dozens of donors and reviewed thousands of pages of financial documents. The Internal Revenue Service was consulted, but the organization was not audited.

The investigation revealed “Boxes for Heroes” raised more than $140,000 in donations from April 2010 to October 2011. Roach, the president of the organization, allegedly used the money as his sole source of income and to pay for all his living expenses.

Roach’s next court date is Dec. 10 for trial call.

 

Reach Dan Balmer at daniel.balmer@peninsulaclarion.com.

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