International Wildlife Investigation Results in Felony Conviction and Loss of Guiding and Hunting Privileges
Anchorage, Alaska – U.S. Attorney Karen Loeffler announced today that John Katzeek, 65, a Haines area big game guide was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Timothy M. Burgess for a felony violation of the Lacey Act to four years of probation along with the loss of hunting and guiding privileges. The felony conviction resulted from a trial in Juneau, Alaska last January where a jury convicted the guide for falsifying paperwork in order to conceal illegal hunting activity.
In 2014, the United States filed charges against Katzeek, a long-time big game guide in the Haines area, for the illegal take of wildlife and concealing the illegal nature of guided hunts by falsification of paperwork to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. Katzeek went to trial and was convicted for providing false information to the state of Alaska on guide-required paperwork. Specifically, Katzeek falsified the paperwork by intentionally failing to list the assistant guide who actually conducted the hunt, provided the name of another assistant guide who did not participate on the hunt, and claimed that he guided the hunt when he remained in town while the hunt took place. Katzeek also falsified the amount of meat that was harvested from the animal when in fact little to no meat was harvested.
The guided hunt occurred in May 2011, in the Haines, Alaska area. As part of his felony conviction, Katzeek was sentenced to four years of probation due to his age and certain medical reasons, fined $2,000 and was ordered to perform 200 hours of community service. During the term of probation, Katzeek is prohibited from guiding big game hunters and is prohibited from hunting game anywhere in the world, including for subsistence in Alaska and Canada. Because of the felony conviction, Katzeek is precluded from possessing any firearms.
The conviction was the result of an extensive joint United States-Canadian investigation. Starting in January 2013, Canada Crown prosecutors in Alberta, and Yukon Territory Canada, charged approximately 17 subjects with 55 violations under Wild Animal and Plant Protection and the Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act (WAPPRIITA). As of this date, eight defendants have been charged and sentenced in Canada, Alaska, and federal court, which resulted in the issuance of over $146,000 in fines, the forfeiture of 10 wildlife trophies, $6800 in restitution to the state of Alaska, the forfeiture of a Piper Supercub aircraft, and over $100,000 in forfeited equipment. Several Canadian trials and United States trials are scheduled for the spring and summer of 2015.
Ms. Loeffler commends the United States Fish and Wildlife Service; Alaska Wildlife Troopers; Environment Canada; Yukon Conservation Officer Service; Alberta Fish and Game; Parks Canada; British Columbia Conservation Officer Service; and the Public Prosecution Service of Canada for the international cooperation extended in the investigation of these cases.