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Anchorage, Alaska – Acting U.S. Attorney Bryan Schroder announced today that two Port Graham, Alaska, residents have been federally charged related to their causing the United States Coast Guard to attempt to save life and property when no help was needed.
Ryan Riley Meganack, aka: “Unga,” 34, and his girlfriend, Ivy Rose Rodriguez, 25, both of Port Graham, Alaska, were charged with conspiracy and false distress. Meganack was also charged with felon in possession of a firearm. Meganack, a long-time commercial fisherman and a boat captain, was scheduled to plead guilty on Dec. 5, 2016, in a separate case (State of Alaska v. Meganack, 3AN-15-00683CR), and understood that at the time he pled guilty in that matter he would go to prison. To avoid that consequence, Meganack attempted to fake his own death and enlisted the help of his girlfriend, Rodriguez.
In furtherance of the conspiracy, on Nov. 29, 2016, Meganack piloted his fishing vessel to an island near Port Graham and abandoned his skiff in a manner that made it appear that he had gone missing after a boating accident or had otherwise died. Meganack then returned to Port Graham, picked up Rodriguez, and the two traveled in Meganack’s fishing vessel to a tidal lagoon where they secured the vessel, and returned to Port Graham on land. Meganack went to a makeshift campsite near Port Graham, and Rodriguez went to a residence where she was staying. In the early morning hours of Nov. 30, 2016, Rodriguez reported to a member of Meganack’s family that Meganack had left in his skiff, the skiff “wasn’t running right,” and indicated that Meganack had been drinking and had more alcohol with him. The Indictment alleges that Meganack and Rodriguez agreed that Rodriguez would tell Meganack’s family that Meganack was missing, knowing that Meganack’s family would report him missing and that a search for Meganack would commence.
Between Nov. 30, 2016, and Dec. 2, 2016, Meganack and Rodriguez caused a search and rescue operation to be launched for Meganack. The weather conditions during the search were poor, with snow, high winds, and low visibility at times in the Port Graham area. Meganack was, in actuality, safe in a makeshift campsite near Port Graham that he made for carrying out their plan.
Federal, state, and local authorities, as well Port Graham residents, participated in the search for Meganack. Helicopters from United States Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak, Coast Guard Cutter Naushon, and Coast Guard command center personnel participated in the operation. The Coast Guard alone expended approximately $310,897.50 in resources during the search for Meganack.
An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the government must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.