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By Dan Rudy 

Local fishermen charged with falsifying IFQ reports

 


Two Wrangell fishermen have pleaded guilty to charges related to falsified commercial catch reports. In documentation submitted to the U.S. District Court in Juneau on Oct. 19, federal prosecutors alleged Charles Petticrew Sr. and Charles Petticrew Jr. conspired together to submit falsified Individual Fishing Quota records over a three-year period.

Petticrew Jr. was alleged to have knowingly submitted IFQ reports that falsely specified the Gulf of Alaska statistical areas where around 3,977 pounds of halibut were caught, valued in all at around $23,375.

In Alaska Department of Fish and Game log entries, he reported the fish were caught in area 3A, spanning from Cape Spencer near Yakutat to the northwest. The prosecution contends the halibut was actually caught in area 2C, further to the southeast. The IFQ submissions were made on four occasions between June 2010 and September 2013.

Court documents also allege Petticrew Jr. signed the names of his father and other relatives to these reports, and submitted false information on ADFG halibut tickets in the name of Petticrew Sr. Falling under the Lacey Act – a conservation law prohibiting the trade of illegally-sourced animals – the misdemeanor charge against Petticrew Jr. carries a maximum penalty of a year in jail and fine of up to $100,000.

For his part, Petticrew Sr. faced one count of conspiring to falsify IFQ records, being allegedly aware of the falsified reports sometime between June 2010 and May 2013. A felony, the charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and up to $250,000 in fines.

He signed a plea agreement on Oct. 16 admitting to the conspiracy charge. Under the agreement Petticrew Sr. would agree to pay a fine of $90,000 and spend five years on probation. In a plea agreement signed the next day, Petticrew Jr. agreed to admit to the charge against him in exchange for a lesser sentence, paying a fine of $10,000 and also serving five years of probation.

In their agreements the Petticrews also agreed to pay for the installation and operation of a vehicle monitoring system on any vessels used by the family corporation for commercial fishing purposes. The two operate the Arlice, based out of Wrangell.

Both were summoned to court in Juneau on Monday before District Judge Timothy Burgess. With their pleas entered, a sentencing date has been set for Jan. 4, 2016.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jack Schmidt explained such cases tend to occur when fishermen have IFQs for different species split between areas. The logistical costs of relocating to meet their quota can be prohibitive, making report falsification seem worth the risk.

Schmidt said an experienced law enforcement officer might notice such discrepancies, leading to legal trouble. An investigation of the Petticrews was initiated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which turned the matter over to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for prosecution.

 

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