'Who steals from the sick and the poor and the dying?': Woman pleads guilty in fraud scheme
While her victims lived with HIV and depended on social security, Paige Bohall enjoyed a lavish lifestyle. The once trusted financial manager of the Alaskan AIDS Assistance Association — or Four A's — is now the bad actor behind what one of the nonprofit's board members calls a "profound betrayal."
Bohall, 38, embezzled more than $105,000 from the nonprofit organization between 2013 and 2017, court records state. She not only misused her company credit card but also took money from individual client accounts to pay her personal bills.
According to its website, the statewide organization provides a range of services to AIDS patients ranging from health care to housing and also manages a needle exchange program.
Thursday, Bohall admitted to scheming to defraud and theft in exchange for a 90-day jail sentence and three months of probation, however, she'll receive credit for time served on an ankle monitor. She's also paid $120,000 in restitution.
Bohall took her friends out to dinner. She bought furniture. Her dogs wore fancy collars — It's knowledge Sarha Shaubach, a dedicated fundraiser for Four A's, says she wanted the court to consider before accepting the plea deal.
"I'd like [the judge] to think of how long it has been since Miss Bohall took over $120,000 from social security clients that have HIV and the type of lifestyle that she was living while she was doing that. I was very aware of that," said Shaubach.
She believes that Bohall should have to spend some time in jail.
"Paige has never even been handcuffed during this. The time that she did spend on ankle monitor was spent down in Vegas with her mother-in-law, while she has not had to face her local community at all," said Shaubach.
Four A's board member Candace Bell addressed the court on behalf of the organization.
"Who does that, your honor?" she asked. "Who steals from the sick and the poor and the dying?"
Bell detailed the extensive fallout from the embezzlement. She said while the restitution is helpful, the measurable cost to date is closer to $160,000. Bell said more than 500 staff hours have been spent dealing with the fraud instead of supporting clients. They've had to trace every instance of theft to try to make things right and pay thousands of dollars in the process for things like forensic audits.
"I would be remiss if I did not admit to the fact that the lightness of the sentence stings," said Bell, "but Four A's as an organization is more inclined toward restoration than retribution and, therefore, we acquiesce to this plea agreement."
Bohall told the judge she is sorry.
"I never meant to hurt anyone with my recklessness," she said, "and I know returning the money that was owed doesn't solve everything, but I do hope the process of healing for the agency does begin with the clients that have had to wait for me to get this back to them."
Unfortunately, for some of her victims, the money can't help them now.
"Some of those clients are no longer living and they will never receive the benefit of the return of the money stolen from them," Bell told the judge.
Anchorage Superior Court Judge Erin Marston accepted plea agreement.
"It's especially painful because it was from a charity and people relied upon that money," he said. "On the other hand, she has paid a large amount of restitution. Often I'm in this position where almost nobody gets any money back and it's just kind of a sad tale all the way around."
Bohall pleaded guilty to a class B felony count of scheme to defraud and a third degree theft charge.
As for Four A's, Bell says the organization continues to help those in need, even if it is still recovering from the impact of Bohall's crimes.
"Our mission is alive and well," she said.
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