Craig man sentenced in federal court for violations of the marine mammal protection act
Anchorage, Alaska – A Craig man was sentenced in federal court in Juneau to two years of probation, ordered to pay a $2,500 fine, and is prohibited from hunting, possessing, and/or transporting marine mammals during his period of probation.
Karen L. Loeffler, U.S. Attorney for the District of Alaska, announced that on September 21, 2011, Richard H. Yates, 53, a resident of Craig, Alaska, pled guilty before, and was sentenced by, Magistrate Judge Leslie C. Longenbaugh for his conviction of illegal sale of wildlife pursuant to the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA).
During court proceedings, Yates, an Alaska Native, admitted that on March 16, 2011, he agreed to sell to an undercover agent of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), a non-Alaska Native, a raw and tanned sea otter pelts for $1,350. Under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, Alaska Natives may take sea otters (Enhydra Lutris) and sell their pelts to non-Alaska Natives if they are made into a Native handicraft which substantially alters the pelt. After this sale, the defendant agreed to sell an additional 28 sea otter pelts for $5,600 to the undercover agent, and ultimately provided eight additional tanned pelts for sale. Yates, in an attempt to circumvent the MMPA requirements, loosely sewed the rear ends of the pelts together and told the undercover agent that the stitching could be easily removed to have eight whole tanned pelts. Yates also made additional arrangements to sell the additional 20 pelts at a future date. These additional pelts were later seized by USFWS Agents. Judge Longenbaugh ordered as part of Yates’ sentence that he forfeit all sea otter pelts seized by USFWS during the investigation.
Ms. Loeffler commended the USFWS investigation that led to the conviction of Yates.