‘Alaskan Bush People’: How the Brown Family Avoided Jail Time in 2014

by Alex Falls

Alaskan Bush People began airing in 2014. Very quickly it developed a cult following of people who loved watching the Brown family in their wilderness antics. However, the reality TV show has also had its share of controversy. Namely, many have questioned the show’s authenticity.

The show’s official description on Disovery says, “Deep in the wilderness lives a family who, for the last thirty years, has lived in the wild.” But this is heavily disputed. The family’s patriarch, Billy Brown, passed away in Loomis, Washington. A long way away from the mountainside property they own in the show. The show takes place on the Palmer Mountain property. But area locals claim the Browns actually live in Loomis where Billy passed away.

Fan speculation about their living situation grew so much that Noah Brown took his Instagram to give a definitive explanation.

“To set the record straight so that everyone can stop asking and speculating,” he wrote. “The mountain is home, North Star Ranch is home. The only reason that we are not on the mountain right now is because Rhain and I personally lost everything in the Palmer mountain wildfire. So we are in a rent house until we can rebuild what we lost. We do not want any donations or hand outs. We are handling everything ourselves. However we do really appreciate the well wishes and prayers, thank you.”

Questions still rage about the Alaskan property. Especially after the Browns had charges filed against them regarding their Alaskan residency.

Starting in 2016, Billy and Joshua “Bam Bam” Brown began serving 30-day house arrest sentences with ankle monitors. They were charged with lying on their Permanent Fund dividend applications. In fact, the entire Brown family was charged with the offense of unsworn falsification. But in exchange for Billy and Bam Bam’s guilty pleas, the charges against the others family members were dropped.

The Permanent Fund dividend is a portion of money Alaskan residents receive for the state’s mineral deposits and oil from the Trans-Atlantic Pipeline. The amounts vary from year to year. But residents who live in Alaska at least 180 days of the year are entitled to the benefits.

Billy spoke with ABC News at the time of the charges and admitted to not keeping track of the family’s time in the state. “Because of the way we live our lives and the way we often unconventionally travel. I didn’t keep good track of our movements. I accept full responsibility for filing for benefits without confirming that we met the requirements.”

Alaskan Bush People has yet to receive an order for another season. Fans of the show wait for a return of the Brown family which will surely look very different without Billy.