Mack Arthur Parker, 51 at the time, appears in Juneau District Court for an arraignment on burglary charges on Wednesday, July 5, 2017. Parker was accused of breaking into the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center on Sunday, July 2, 2017. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

Mack Arthur Parker, 51 at the time, appears in Juneau District Court for an arraignment on burglary charges on Wednesday, July 5, 2017. Parker was accused of breaking into the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center on Sunday, July 2, 2017. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

Visitor center burglar sentenced to two years in prison

Mack Arthur Parker, who pleaded guilty to burglarizing the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center last year, was sentenced Thursday to two years in prison.

Parker, 52, was sentenced to just under three years (34 months) in federal court earlier this year for having a gun while being a convicted felon. Juneau Superior Court Judge Philip Pallenberg ruled Thursday that Parker will serve the two years in addition to the three years he’s currently serving.

Parker was arrested July 3, 2017 for the July 2 burglary of the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center. According to an Empire report at the time, security camera footage showed a man breaking into the Discovery Southeast gift shop at the visitor center at about 4:30 a.m. on Sunday, July 2, and that police found a car in the parking lot packed with brochures, stuffed animals and other souvenirs from the visitor center.

Police said at the time that they saw a man in black who was walking quickly away from the visitor center who didn’t stop walking when police asked him to. Outside the visitor center, police said at the time, they found backpacks stuffed with computer equipment. One of those backpacks, police said, also contained a set of dentures marked “M. Parker.”

[Burglary suspect left car, dentures behind]

At noon the next day, according to charging documents at the time, police found Parker at a home in the 9200 block of James Boulevard. Parker ended up pleading guilty in December, according to electronic court records.

The crime for which he was sentenced in federal court, according to his plea agreement, occurred just a week before the visitor center break-in. A JPD officer found Parker unconscious at the wheel of his car, according to the plea deal, on June 25, 2017.

The officer found that Parker had a Smith and Wesson Model Walther PPS 9mm caliber pistol beneath his leg in the front seat. Parker later told police that he had just found the gun, according to the plea deal. Parker had previously been convicted for first-degree robbery on Feb. 11, 2001 in Anchorage Superior Court, according to the plea deal. With this conviction on his record, Parker was not allowed to own a gun.

[Juneau man sentenced for being felon in possession of a gun]

The federal government recently transferred Parker to a federal facility in Nevada, and he was present over the phone at Thursday’s hearing. Assistant Public Defender Eric Hedland said in court earlier this week that the transfer was a surprise.

Parker spoke briefly over the phone, apologizing for the crime and saying he made “bad judgment” when he broke into the visitor center. He said he and his wife Teressa actually got married at the glacier, and that this was a “total embarrassment” to his wife, family and friends.

He also explained that he has struggled with opioid abuse over the years and that his health is failing. He said he’s had two massive heart attacks recently and his kidneys are in poor health.

“I’m asking the court to forgive me for what I’ve done,” Parker said.

Mack’s wife Teressa was present in person, and said the burglary was very out of character for her husband.

“As far as the incident that occurred, I know deep in my heart that if he were in his sound mind, it never would have occurred,” Teressa said in court.

Assistant District Attorney Amy Paige painted a different picture, pointing at a long history of criminal charges for Parker dating back to 1993. One robbery charge in particular was serious, both she and Hedland agreed. Paige couldn’t find the specifics of the robbery, for which Parker was sentenced to 15 years in prison in 2001, but Hedland said he remembers it as being a gun-wielding holdup of a convenience store.

Paige also said that although this burglary might seem minor because it was just souvenirs that were stolen, Parker caused property damage when he entered the building. Paige also said the visitor center is a key economic driver for Juneau and any damage to it must be taken seriously.

“The glacier visitor center brings in a ton of revenue for the community every year and the fact that we should all do what we can to protect it is a given,” Paige said, “because we all rely on it to ensure our economic survival continues, given the fact that this city relies heavily on tourist dollars.”


• Contact reporter Alex McCarthy at 523-2271 or amccarthy@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @akmccarthy.


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