Mr. Bill and Miz Mona

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Moose Pass Journal/ Fairbanks/ 8-13-2011

Bill Says: In early January of 1990, we packed up our truck with kids and animals, and left Troy & Leslie's house on the Kenai Peninsula for our return to Fairbanks. I had gotten a new job with the State of Alaska Games of Chance and Skill Unit. I was hired on, after a lengthy process, as an Investigator III. This was a great job, with some really nice benefits, my own office/secretary and brand new take home car. Who could want for more? I should also mention my supervisor worked in Juneau, so I was pretty much on my own.

There had been a lot of snow that winter so far and driving north, we counted more than 100 moose on the sides of the road. After a 100 we quit counting. I should also mention our first night in Fairbanks a car slid through a stop sign and nailed the side of our new truck. But I did get to meet a long time member of the Fairbanks Police Department, who came out to conduct the investigation. We would end up having a nice friendly working relationship over the next four years, as I worked with Fairbanks Police.

Mona and I had left Fairbanks after getting out of the service and looked forward to returning. We first lived in Sophia's Station hotel for a very short time and soon had rented an a nice house up on Red Fox Road. Grandma came to live with us there and soon after, so did our son John Leroy. I add the middle name since we now have two John's in the family. We found a nice family church with Lighthouse Christian Center and would spend the most of 13-years with them.

When I got hired I needed to spend a week down in Anchorage working with the investigator there to see what my job actually involved. He was quitting and I was about to find myself as the only investigator in the state for this unit, which had another 9 members. These were accountants/clerical staff and my boss. I learned real quickly that my job involved a lot of travel and most of it by very small itty-bitty airplanes. Pilots loved to stash me into their planes, along with the sled dogs, Cosco food supplies and then laugh at the way my knees were stuck up under my chin. I flew from to Southeast Alaska to St.Lawrence Island, Nome to Bethel and Dillingham. Visited Kodiak and made a road trip once a year to cover the length of the highway from Fairbanks to Anchorage, on to Cantwell and Tok and back to Fairbanks. This involved something like nearly 2,000 miles and in the process I hit nearly every bar, bingo hall and pull-tab store. ( I could see Russia from the St. Lawrence, not that I knew anyone over there or that I thought about visiting.). I met all kinds of great people, got to see the finish of the Iditirod Dog Sled Race in Nome twice and ended up working some important investigative cases during my 4 years. I worked 750 investigations, the number always stuck in my head and I had to turn in monthly stats to the boss. Now most of these were 1-2 day quick cases and others involved 6-8 months to work. I investigated criminals, organized crime people and politicians. A lot of my cases were what is termed Whiter Collar crime and this involved fraud, embezzlement, theft and forgery. They sent me to a top Federal school in Georgia for training in these areas. I was also sent to the State of Washington Gambling Academy and immediately realized Washington had a whole lot better handle on the criminal side of of gaming then we did.

My main assignment was to regulate the 250 million dollar gaming industry conducted in Alaska. This was your pull-tabs, bingo, raffles and such. The man I replaced did just that. But they made the mistake of hiring a former police officer for this job and I went about changing things. The way I looked at it, if I was to enforce the gaming laws, I should also be investigating all those people violating the gaming laws by illegal gambling. No one had really investigated illegal gambling in the state, turning sort of a blind eye to it. So, I hit them pretty hard because they were not suspecting it. I closed down a lot of illegal operations, busted after-hour party houses and came down really hard on fraternal organizations for illegal gambling, (American Legion, VFW, Elks, Moose, Eagles...etc.).

I worked with the Alaska State Troopers, US Coast Guard, Office of the OSI, ( Air Force) and CID, (Army), FBI and most of the municipal police departments in the state. Mostly though, I worked with the Fairbanks Police Department. I was given a radio and a state call sign, ( 32D-1). They would back me up if needed and on several occasions I backed them up, when they were so busy and only had one unit to respond to a dangerous call.

I also worked the State Alcohol Beverage and Control Board, but this was mostly with Investigator III Gary Wing, who became a very close friend and my partner in crime. We really got into a lot of trouble together. So much so that his bosses in Anchorage ordered him to stay away from me, but we were both deaf at the time. We did a lot of stakeouts together, made arrests and did some undercover work where we were not known. Gary's Wife, Mary Wing, was also our family doctor and the best one I ever had. Gary would later leave the ABC Board and take a job with the Alaska Railroad as their Investigator. Mary would retire and we were off looking for another doctor.

My secretary was named Nancy and I shared her duties with my office partner, Dick Swangbank, State Geologist and an Englishman with 12-years in Alaska and he still carried his accent. Nice guy. We got along pretty well and drove Nancy plain crazy with having to type up our reports and the two of us having such an extreme difference between our work.  She'd be typing up about Gold deposits in a section of Alaska one moment and then typing up an interview I had done with exotic dancer during a lengthy investigation I was doing against two bar owners. Nancy really hated my interviews, especially these nasty ones filled with profanity and I did 200 dancer interviews over 6 months. She would often shout out, "I hate you, Bill!", but she was a great typist and felt sincerely sorry for these ladies.

Soon, our little unit grew in size, we took on two more investigators, one in Juneau and one in Anchorage, more accountants and I got another boss, Chief Investigator Gary Dodson. We became the Gaming Unit Division. We were only one of a few divisions in the state showing a real profit, but we were also creating waves the politicians didn't like.

Next, I'll get into some of my political cases. God Bless!

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