Accusations of illegal acts, a fraud charge, more questions from Anchorage Assembly about former health director

The Assembly went into executive session Tuesday night to review documents from the investigation into Gerace.
Published: Jan. 25, 2023 at 4:32 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Members of the Anchorage Assembly say a Bronson administration report doesn’t provide enough details about the hiring of former Health Department Director Joe Gerace.

“What report? Yeah, that’s what I thought,” Assembly Vice Chair Chris Constant said Wednesday morning.

The Assembly went into executive session Tuesday night to review documents from the investigation into Gerace, who fabricated much of his education and military background on his resume.

The Alaska Court System’s CourtView website shows a Joe Gerace charged with fraud, which was filed on Dec. 8 of last year.

The State of Alaska and the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs are listed as the plaintiffs. The Alaska Department of Law says, as of Wednesday afternoon, it had no additional information.

“This is still not in our system. I can update you when it is available,” department spokesperson Sam Curtis said.

Gerace resigned suddenly in August of last year, citing health issues at the time. After the publication of an investigation into Gerace’s resume contents by Alaska Public Media, Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson’s administration began an investigation into Gerace’s hiring.

Constant says assembly members relied on the city’s Human Resources Director Niki Tshibaka to screen applicants’ information. How Gerace was able to fabricate his resume and still get hired became part of an investigation by the administration.

Constant says he feels satisfied that changes have been made to the hiring process, but more serious questions about Gerace’s impact on Anchorage and city employees remain.

“It’s more so the question of what did this person, who has clearly committed fraud, done to the people and the processes of the municipality,” Constant said.

Constant says he wouldn’t talk about what the report did reveal because it was turned over during an executive session. He expects legal action will be taken before the findings can be made public.

The report comes after former Municipal Manager Amy Demboski accused the administration of a number of unethical and even illegal acts.

In an email sent Dec. 14., Demboski says the mayor used “unlawful and unethical activities using municipal resources.”

Her attorney then sent an 11-page demand letter to the mayor alleging improper and possibly illegal behavior within Bronson’s office.

Additionally, Anchorage’s Acting Municipal Attorney Blair Christensen tendered her resignation this week. A news release says that Christensen has worked for the municipality for nine years.

“My time working on behalf of the people of Anchorage has been one of the greatest jobs and honors of my life. The people I have had the fortune of working with and learning from have made this job something special,” Christensen said in the release. “I want to thank the Mayor for his trust in me over the last 5-months, as I served as Acting Municipal Attorney.

Christensen was the third municipal attorney to serve under Bronson’s administration.

Emails to the mayor’s office were not returned Wednesday.

On Tuesday, Alaska’s News Source asked the mayor to comment on the Assembly using subpoena powers to investigate the hiring of Gerace. Additionally, the mayor was asked to respond to accusations from Constant that his administration is “consistently flubbing’ truth and lies?”

“The Administration recommended this process to the Assembly to protect the Municipality from potential legal action and to safeguard Mr. Gerace’s right to privacy,” a spokesperson wrote in reply.