The Truth About Alaskan Bush People's Complicated History With The Law

The Discovery Channel's Alaskan Bush People chronicles the journey of the Brown family as they face challenges in the wilderness and beyond. The title suggests, of course, that the reality series is shot in Alaska, which it was until the family had to move to a more central location. The reason for the move was because the matriarch, Ami, was diagnosed with lung cancer and needed a more accessible location to receive treatment, as per The Sun.

While the show seems idyllic in so many ways through its focus on nature, there's a lot that's come out about the Brown family. Some details are tragic while others imply that the entire show is fake. But that's not all that's come out about the Brown family. The truth is they have a complicated history with the law that involves a few different family members — so the reality TV show might not be so perfect after all. Here's the story.

Why Billy Brown and his son served jail time

The Brown family patriarch, Billy Brown, got caught up in legal issues along with his second-eldest son, Joshua "Bam Bam" Brown. In October 2014, they were charged with "60 counts of first-degree unsworn falsification and first-and-second-degree theft," according to Distractify.

The charges included Billy, his wife, Ami, and four of their seven children, per the outlet. Reports state that the Brown family lied "on Permanent Fund dividend applications between 2011 and 2013," per Distractify, which are meant only for Alaskan residents. The Brown family was not technically living in Alaska during these applications.

Billy and Joshua pled guilty and served 30-day jail sentences, as well as 40 hours of community service in 2016, according to Distractify, thus clearing the rest of the family.

Billy explained the whole situation to People in 2017: "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," he added. "We are committed to living in Alaska for the long term and we respect the state's rules. I thought it best to settle to put this behind us."

While the situation is behind the Brown family now, this isn't the only complication they've had with the law.

Matt Brown's troubled history

One of Billy and Ami Brown's sons, Matt Brown, has faced serious accusations from two different women who claim that Matt raped them. The two incidents occurred just days apart in 2018.

In 2020, the two women shared their stories with The Sun. The first woman, Jessica Jurges, was an assistant to the Brown family and said that Matt grabbed her while they were swimming at a pool in Canoga Park, Los Angeles. Matt's then-manager, Shelly Dawn Early, pulled Matt off, who was drunk at the time, so that Jessica could escape. Only three days later, Shelly claimed Matt raped her in the same location.

The two women reported the alleged rapes to the LAPD's Topanga Division who then passed the case to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's office, after conducting an investigation, according to The Sun. The Los Angeles County DA's office later declined to prosecute.

Matt has a long history of substance abuse, according to People. He first sought treatment in 2016 but it proved unsuccessful and then again in 2018. But Alaskan Bush People stopped following Matt's story on the reality show around the same time as these alleged rapes.

If you or someone you know has been the victim of sexual assault, you can call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673) or visit for additional resources.

If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse and mental health, please contact SAMHSA's 24-hour National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).