A woman prosecutors say fraudulently sought more than $70,000 in Permanent Fund dividends, almost all of them for people who didn’t exist, claimed she didn’t do it Thursday.

Sheila McMahon, 44, entered a not-guilty plea in the 149-count case at a Thursday arraignment in Anchorage Superior Court.

A $10,000 warrant had been issued for McMahon’s arrest in June, after the state Office of Special Prosecutions said McMahon had sought dozens of dividend checks from 2015 to 2017. About $17,000 of the checks she allegedly sought on behalf of more than 50 people – fewer than 15 of whom actually existed – were actually paid by the state.

Lisa Kelley, the assistant district attorney handling McMahon’s case, said Thursday that McMahon was arrested earlier this month in her home state of Alabama.

In a request last week that a judge set release conditions for McMahon before she was allowed to post bail, prosecutors alluded to significant reserves of cash beyond the amounts mentioned in the case.

“During the course of the investigation, investigators found numerous bank accounts that Ms. McMahon had access to, including an Alaska USA (Federal Credit Union) account with a balance of more than $100,000,” prosecutors wrote. “At the time Ms. McMahon was arrested on the warrant in Alabama, she was in possession of $18,052 in U.S. currency and $1,960 in euros.”

Neither troopers nor prosecutors announced McMahon’s arrest, but a statewide inmate database showed her in custody at the Hiland Mountain Correctional Center in Eagle River since July 17.

Court records show McMahon’s case set to be tried on the week of Oct. 15.

Jared Mazurek contributed information to this story.

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