Longtime Skagway Assemblyman Dan Henry resigned his seat this week, less than a month before he must report to prison. In February, Henry pleaded guilty to federal tax charges.
Henry was absent from the last two assembly meetings, leaving the question of whether he planned to resign up in the air. That question was finally answered at Thursday’s meeting.
“We did receive a resignation from Assemblyman Henry,” said Mayor Mark Schaefer.
Henry wasn’t there, so Schaefer read the letter, which Henry addressed to Borough Clerk Emily Deach.
Emily, Please inform the Mayor and Assembly that as of today, I am resigning from the Skagway City Assembly , and please relay to all that it has been my pleasure and most profound honor to serve on the Council and Assembly for the past 20 years. I believe Skagway to be in the best position financially in its existence and with a bright future ahead. I would like to feel that I may have aided in that evolution and hope for Skagway’s continued growth and prosperity. Best Regards, Dan Henry.
“And we wish him luck in what he’s facing,” Schaefer added.
What he’s facing is a year and a day in federal prison and possible penalties from the Alaska Public Offices Commission.
Henry’s case came to light early this year when he was convicted of willful failure to timely file federal income tax returns. He pleaded guilty to four misdemeanor charges after two years of plea deal negotiations.
Henry is the owner of the Skagway Fish Company restaurant. According to court documents, he failed to file his income taxes from 2004 to 2012. He also failed to disclose any annual income over a thousand dollars on years of financial disclosure reports to APOC.
Henry was ordered to pay more than $600,000 in restitution to the IRS. In September, a judge sentenced him to a year and a day in prison. At that hearing, Henry gave an explanation for his behavior, saying he struggled with drinking and gambling that led to a number of financial losses.
There may be more repercussions on the way for Henry. An APOC case involving his incomplete filings is set to go before the commission at its regular meeting Tuesday. APOC staff recommended a fine of $22,000 for the violations. The commission will make a final decision on the penalty Tuesday.
Henry never publicly addressed the situation at assembly meetings, although he did write a letter to the editor in the local newspaper. As is the case for this story, Henry has not returned KHNS’s requests for comment.
Although Henry didn’t speak about the matter at assembly meetings, some residents did. Several people called on him to step down from elected office. Bob Carlson spoke at a meeting in August.
“I believe assembly members should be of the highest character and moral,” Carlson said. “I just feel that you failed me, and our community too.”
Carlson was one of a few residents who asked Henry to resign in time for his seat to be placed on the Oct. 4 municipal election ballot. But that did not happen.
Now, the mayor will appoint someone to the seat Henry vacated. There were four candidates who ran for two open assembly seats in the recent election. Some have asked for one of the two candidates who were not the top vote-getters to be appointed to the vacant seat. They are David Brena and write-in candidate Spencer Morgan.
Mayor Schaefer plans to address the appointment at the next assembly meeting. KHNS could not reach Schaefer for comment by air time.
Meanwhile, Schaefer appointed different assembly members to fill Henry’s spot as vice mayor and chair of the assembly finance committee. Tim Cochran takes over as vice mayor and Steve Burnham Jr. as finance chair.
Henry has been ordered to report to a federal prison facility to serve out his sentence by Nov. 1.