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State files burglary charges against Kwethluk man accused of stealing $43K from village store

Bethel Search and Rescue
Kwethluk, Alaska

Thirty-two-year-old Daniel Nick has been in custody at Bethel’s Yukon Kuskokwim Correctional Center since 2023, held on a variety of felony and misdemeanor charges that include kidnapping, assault, coercion, methamphetamine possession, and burglary.

Those burglary charges are for his alleged involvement in the disappearance of $43,000 from the Kwethluk Native Store, the only grocery store in the lower Kuskokwim River community of roughly 800 people.

Earlier this year, a judge ordered that the burglary charges against Nick be tried as a separate case from his other charges.

On June 5, the court determined that the only apparent piece of potential physical evidence in the burglary case – a Crown Royal bag containing a “large amount of currency” – will not be allowed in court after the defense successfully claimed unreasonable search and seizure.

But on June 10, the state moved forward with re-filing the burglary charges against Nick.

Nick was initially arrested following a standoff with Alaska State Troopers, during which troopers used pepper spray and tasers to force him out from a single-room dwelling in Kwethluk.

In a statement about the arrest, a trooper wrote that he and other troopers responded to the dwelling based on an assault unrelated to the burglary and reported by a woman that Nick had been ordered by the court to have no contact with. Nick was also in violation at the time of orders to not travel to Kwethluk.

The woman told troopers that Nick had hit her in the face with the butt of a rifle, and had confessed to her that he stole the $43,000 from the Kwethluk Native Store.

When they arrested Nick, troopers reportedly seized a bag of methamphetamine, the rifle used in the alleged assault, and the Crown Royal bag with the still undisclosed sum of money inside. With that bag now deemed inadmissible in court, it is unclear what physical evidence the state may ultimately bring.

In dozens of pages of documents filed by the state in the burglary case, the only mention of a connection between Nick and the $43,000 missing from the Kwethluk Native Store is from that trooper statement from the time of Nick’s arrest in August 2023, a few days after the burglary.

The next hearings for both of the state's cases against Nick are scheduled for July 3 in Bethel Superior Court.

According to Alaska State Troopers, the Kwethluk Native Store was also targeted in April when the store’s safe was stolen and later found at a nearby fish camp following unsuccessful attempts to break it open. That investigation is ongoing and no charges have been filed.

Corrected: June 13, 2024 at 3:04 PM AKDT
A previous version of this story failed to note that Nick is also being held on misdemeanor charges.
Evan Erickson is a reporter at KYUK who has previously worked as a copy editor, audio engineer and freelance journalist.
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