Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Oregon Halibut Fisherman Fined for Federal Fisheries Crimes

A halibut fisherman from Cove, Oregon has been sentenced in US District Court in Anchorage for falsely reporting where he caught 31,000 pounds of halibut that he sold in Kodiak in 2007.

US Attorney Karen L. Loeffler said that 47-year-old Freddie Joe Hankins was sentenced by US District Court Judge H. Russel Holland to fines totaling $25,000, a community service payment of $75,000 and three years probation on condition that all his fishing activities be recorded by an on-board electronic vessel monitoring system.

Assistant US Attorney Stephen Cooper said the evidence established that Hankins had caught the halibut in an area where it was illegal for him to fish and that he falsely stated in his landing reports that he caught the fish in another more distant but legal area.

Arne Fuglvog, the former fisheries aide to Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who served a prison term for a similar fisheries conviction, testified at the Hankins trial that he had fished with Hankins, and that Hankins had previously made similar false landing reports claiming he caught his fish in the more distant but legal area. In fact, Fuglvog said, Hankins caught them in the area closer to port where the fishing was better.

Evidence also showed Hankins was convicted in state court in 2007 for falsifying a landing report to conceal the fact that he had exceeded the allowable bycatch of rockfish.

During sentencing, Holland found that Hankins had knowingly testified falsely at his trial when he denied that he falsified the landing reports, and that this testimony amounted to perjury. Holland found further that Hankins were still “in a state of denial” about having committed the crime for which the jury convicted him.

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