FAIRBANKS — The program coordinator for the Tanana Chiefs Conference Village Public Safety Officer Program has been charged with felony criminal mischief for reportedly using her pickup truck to move a car that was blocking her in at the Tanana Lakes Recreation Area on July 4.
Sgt. Jody Juneby-Potts, 41, of Fairbanks, has been a VPSO since 2009. She served in the Copper River Basin area before becoming the TCC program coordinator in 2013.
Juneby-Potts is also charged with misdemeanor leaving the scene of an accident. She reportedly told troopers she was in a rush to get home because she was hosting a barbecue.
According to a criminal complaint filed in Fairbanks court Tuesday, a witness saw Juneby-Potts reverse her Toyota Tundra into a parked blue 2007 Toyota Camry sedan and push it back approximately 10 feet. Potts then pulled forward and backed into the Camry again to move it back farther.
Juneby-Potts immediately left the scene after moving the car and made no attempt to locate the car’s owner or leave a note with her contact information, according to the complaint.
The witness called 911 and followed Juneby-Potts for about 4 miles before Alaska State Troopers arrived.
Juneby-Potts told troopers she couldn’t leave the recreation area because someone had blocked her in to her parking spot. Juneby-Potts said she tried to locate the car’s owner but could not, so she called law enforcement. She moved the car after law enforcement advised she needed to contact the car’s owner, according to the complaint.
“Potts claimed she slightly, gently moved the car out of the way with her Tundra. Potts stated there was only a little damage to the car,” the complaint states.
The Camry’s owner told troopers she was at the recreation area for approximately an hour. She returned to her car to find it pushed into the middle of the parking lot and with obvious damage to the front side.
Troopers found pieces of the Camry on the ground and damage to the front bumper and grill. Investigators determined the car had been moved about 33 feet from where the owner had parked it. Damage was estimated at $2,946.72.
The VPSO program is funded by the state and supplies officers to rural Alaska villages. The funding is distributed by the Alaska State Troopers to the regional nonprofit Native corporations which administer the program. TCC’s VPSO program serves 29 villages from Holy Cross to Venetie, according to the corporation’s website.
Doreen Deaton, executive director of communications for TCC, issued this statement Wednesday evening.
“Tanana Chiefs Conference will not comment on the allegations referred to in the criminal complaint of Sgt. Jody Juneby-Potts. Jody has been an effective advocate for public safety in Alaska for over a decade. Her tireless commitment to Interior Alaska has been instrumental to changes in policies and standards resulting in the improvement of rural public safety. We hope for a quick resolution so that we can focus on public safety for Alaskans.”
Deaton declined to comment on reports that Juneby-Potts had resigned from her position.
“TCC does not discuss personnel issues outside the organization,” Deaton said.
Contact staff writer Dorothy Chomicz at 459-7582. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMcrime.