Fans of the Discovery Channel reality show Alaskan Bush People will shed some tears this week. As of Monday, two members of the Brown family have plead guilty to charges of fraud and have been sentenced to 30 days in prison.
The Brown family is one of the most well-loved Alaskan families on television, yet their lack of judgement might lead to the show’s end.
Originally, charges were laid against most members of the Brown family, but following a plea deal, it is only patriarch Billy Brown, 63, and son Joshua (Bam) Brown, 31, who will do time behind bars.
Their crime? They filed false applications to receive money from a state fund for residents of Alaska while they didn’t meet residential requirements. According to the Juneau Empire newspaper, the proper terminology for their crime is:
“a single misdemeanour charge of unsworn falsification in the second degree.”
The family received a total of $20, 938 from the Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend. Their applications filed from 2009 – 2012 were fraudulent as the state requires residency for all but a maximum of 180 days in order to receive the payout. Assuming all requirements are met, residents would receive approximately $1, 884 annually.
The Browns admitted to leaving Alaska in 2009 and not entering again until 2012. The admission is a full acceptance of guilty. Billy said:
“Because of the way we live our lives and the way we often unconventionally travel, I didn’t keep good track of our movements. I accept full responsibility for filing for benefits without confirming that we met the requirements. We are committed to living in Alaska for the long term and we respect the state’s rules. I thought it best to settle to put this behind us.”
Before the plea deal was reached with Juneau Superior Court Judge Philip Pallenberg, Billy was faced with 24 counts (which included felony charges) and Bam faced six counts. Billy and Bam will be facing jail time despite Billy’s condition* and the Browns will also likely be forced to pay fines and restitution’s to the state of Alaska.
Alaskan Bush People premiered on television in 2014 and as such, the Browns crimes predate the show. But if history is any indicator, usually when drama and bad press surrounds a show…the show gets dropped. This is devastating news for fans that have watched since the beginning.
Fingers crossed the Discovery Channel will give the Browns a second chance and the family can get this legal mess dealt with soon!
*Billy Brown has an unknown health condition which causes episodes of detrimental seizures.