Former Health Department Director Joe Gerace accused of civil fraud

Former Health Department Director Joe Gerace accused of civil fraud
Published: Jan. 26, 2023 at 11:40 AM AKST|Updated: Jan. 26, 2023 at 3:59 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The former Health Department Director Joe Gerace has been accused of civil fraud.

The complaint alleges that Gerace was paid $94,783.69 over 203 days by the State Active Duty service for a higher rate of compensation than he was entitled to for duty with the Alaska State Defense Force (ASDF).

The court documents say that “had the defendant been truthful about his prior military service and prior rank at the time of his appointment to the ASDF, he would have been compensated at the E-4 level for the 203 days. This would have resulted in a total compensation of $33,207.60, a difference of $61,576.09 from what he was actually paid.”

The Alaska Department of Law says Gerace has not been served yet.

Gerace resigned suddenly in August of last year, citing health issues at the time. That came after the publication of an investigation into Gerace’s resume by Alaska Public Media that documented many fabrications. Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson’s administration then began an investigation into Gerace’s hiring.

Attempts to get in touch with Gerace were unsuccessful, and emails to the mayor’s office this week were not returned. As Anchorage Health Department Director, Gerace was in charge of responding to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the homeless crisis in Anchorage.

It was revealed that Gerace lied about his education and military experience.

Court documents say Gerace participated in election support and COVID-19 response in 2020-2021, which resulted in 203 days of State Active Duty service.

Gerace was a member of the Alaska State Defense Force, which is affiliated with the Alaska Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.

It is considered part of Alaska’s organized militia.

Court documents allege that Gerace “fraudulently misrepresented to the ASDF that he had achieved the rank of Lieutenant Colonel with over 24 years of service in the U.S. Army.”

Because of that claim, it’s alleged that Gerace was paid at a much higher rank than he deserved with a much higher rate of compensation than deserved.

The case aims to garner $61,576.09 in restitution damages.

Alaska’s News Source spoke with a veteran and VFW Commander of the 9365, Ryan McNeely, who spoke about the general issue, not this case in particular. He says due diligence would reveal the true rank of anyone who served.

McNeely, who does not know Gerace, says he was “not pleased” that someone would misrepresent their military service.

“I don’t like it. I definitely don’t like it,” McNeely said, “especially misrepresentation. You know, people adding awards, or badges or schools or citations to their discharge documentation. It’s definitely frowned upon. And it should be.”

The Anchorage Assembly went into executive session last Tuesday night to review documents from the Bronson administration’s investigation into Gerace.

Most members left saying there are still more questions about Gerace, especially because he handled millions of dollars for the city.

“What other liabilities will the municipality have, because of this man who was in charge of one of our most important departments in the municipality, fabricating and lying about his resume, and who knows if that extended to how he did his job,” Assembly Member Felix Rivera said.

Rivera says this accusation is further proof of why the assembly needed a more thorough investigation from the city.

“We are so worried that we are putting ourselves in a position where we’re gonna get sued, where, I mean, who knows what might be happening because this individual lied through his teeth,” Rivera said. “Who knows what he did while he was in that job that oversees millions of dollars worth and contracts and grants? Some of the most important positions that we have that that, you know, people in the city rely on the health department, especially low-income, low-income individuals to do their job. And so yeah, it just makes me very worried about what this means for the future.”