Local

Stella’s Story

Written by Heather Penn

Stella Carpenter owner and operator of Stella’s Superstore, located in the Two Dice Pawn shop off of Gilliam Way has a grievance. Carpenter has seen much in her 88 years but nothing chaffs her more than criminals and she sees plenty come through her doors. Carpenter has operated Two Dice since her husband passed away in 2013.

 

“Thievery and deception are a mainstay in my profession. It even happens with my own employees.” Carpenter references a time in 2013 time when two girls who were working for her were robbing her blind. Stealing jewelry and wares and selling them for their own profit. One of the girls had struck up a deal with a local police detective selling him guns in the basement of the store for way below retail. Carpenter lost $25,000-$30,000 on those covert transactions. “Together those two employees stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from me,” said Carpenter. Most of the wares stolen had to be paid for out of pocket when the customers came into to claim their items. When it came to light what the two employees were doing Stella confronted each of them. Both choose to quit and walked out of the store.

 

Carpenter brought these actions to the attention of the police department but was almost immediately dismissed. She was told to file a report which she did. She also filed a police report against the detective who benefitted from the “mark-down basement” guns. After Carpenters report the detective was told “not to shop there anymore” and his infractions were summed up to Carpenter as, he “just got deals.” Though the report was essentially dismissed the incident did result in the ATF doing their own investigation. Though those results were never released to Carpenter.

 

Four years later and Carpenter has yet to have anyone come take a look at her case. The statements from other employees who witnessed the two stealing, sit dusty and unread under the front counter. This case will never be closed because now (four years later) if you were to “search these former employees homes you won’t find a trace of my property,” said Carpenter “so what could they accuse them of. If an investigation had been started right away I might have had a chance of recovering some of my items and not suffering such an expensive loss.” But alas, that was not to be.

 

“I have lost all confidence in the local police force,” said Carpenter. Referencing not only her past employee’s thievery but also the lack of response when Carpenter uncovers a criminal currently in her store. An incident this past year has Carpenter riled up as she called the local PD to inform them that a man (a wanted felon) with an active warrant was trying to sell stolen guns. He had brought in one of the many he still had in his car. Carpenter called the local PD and was told to take his name and a good address and they would follow up at a later date. Carpenter was irate at the thought of letting this known felon traipse off with a car full of stolen guns. “Who knows where he would go with the guns or whose hands they may fall into.”

 

At a loss for what to do and knowing this didn’t fall in their jurisdiction, Carpenter called the Alaska State Troopers. She informed them that she had tried to use the proper channels but to no avail. They immediately dispatched a unit to her store and arrested the man and confiscated his car and guns.

“This shouldn’t be how it is, said Carpenter I know that Fairbanks is the lowest paid police force in the state, but still.” Carpenter believes the local PD, like many things in Fairbanks, is stuck in a 1970 model. This town was built for those who wanted to harvest its resources and leave but at some point, people decided to stay. There are now second and third generations of Fairbanksians as people are putting down roots here. The police force, government and utilities are all designed for that older model when the population was less than half what is today. “It is time for a revamping, it is time to start taking care of our people in Fairbanks, it is time to take back Fairbanks,” said Carpenter.

 

Luckily for Carpenter some help may be coming soon, though not without a constant badgering. Her employee Scott Glendenning, a former police chief in Amsterdam Ohio has been meeting regularly with the Fairbanks Chief of Police to try and resolve Carpenters issues. “The current chief is trying to revamp the local PD image, he is trying to fix the obvious deficits,” said Glendenning. But the corruption runs deeper than just the local PD. “You can have a solid case with 100 percent guilt, all the evidence that you need and it will still not be an open and shut case. When the case heads to the DA they can choose to dismiss the charges”, said Glendenning. Perhaps the suspect is a relative or friends of a golf buddy or old drinking pal, the charges then disappear.

 

Undaunted Glendenning will always try and help Carpenter out. “She is a sweet lady who does a lot for this community.” Glendenning joined Carpenters staff after losing his wife to cancer in 2015. “It was always my dream to live in Alaska, so after my wife died I along with my son decided to give it a go. We’ve been living here ever since,” said Glendenning.

About the author

Heather Penn

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