juneau man pleads guilty to violating lacey act
Anchorage, Alaska – United States Attorney Karen Loeffler announced today, July 27, 2010, that Jason Maroney of Juneau, Alaska, pled guilty in federal court in Juneau to violating the Lacey Act by commercially purchasing halibut that was caught for subsistence purposes.
Maroney, 39, pled guilty to nine counts of the Lacey Act violation before United States District Judge Timothy M. Burgess.
Maroney, the owner and operator of the former Doc Water’s Pub in Juneau, took part in a continuing scheme of purchasing subsistence halibut for resale in the restaurant, a violation of federal regulations. Maroney pled guilty to purchasing subsistence fish from two sources. Under the terms of the plea agreement, Maroney will serve 10 months of imprisonment.
Previously, David Skrzynski, 58, of Juneau, pled guilty to providing fish to Maroney. Skrzynski holds a valid Subsistence Halibut Registration Certificate (otherwise known as a “SHARC card”) , which allows him to fish for halibut for subsistence purposes. However, federal regulations prohibit the commercial sale of subsistence halibut. A second fisherman who provided halibut to Maroney is now deceased.
Maroney pled guilty to purchasing more than 4,000 pounds of illegally-caught halibut, of which approximately 3,700 pounds was provided by Skrzynski. Maroney paid more than $16,500 for the halibut. Maroney paid $4-5 dollars per pound for the fish, significantly less than he would have paid for legally-harvested halibut.
“The penalties assessed in this case are a sharp reminder that illicit endeavors to undermine the management of fisheries will not be tolerated. Halibut is an important commercial and recreational species to residents of Alaska and beyond,” said Sherrie Myers, the Special Agent in Charge, Alaska Enforcement Division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries Office of Law Enforcement.
U.S. Attorney Karen Loeffler added “enforcement of fisheries laws is an essential tool for protecting one of our nation’s most valuable resources.”
Judge Burgess scheduled sentencing for October 1, 2010, at 10:00 a.m. The law provides for a total sentence of one year in prison, a fine of $100,000, or both. Skrzynski is scheduled for sentencing on October 1, 2010. In Skrzynski’s case, the law provides for a total sentence of five years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed is based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the criminal history, if any, of the defendants.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Office of Law Enforcement, Alaska Enforcement Division conducted the investigation leading to the indictment in this case.