Wrangell halibut fishermen plead guilty to Lacey Act violations

A Wrangell father and son have pleaded guilty to federal charges related to Lacey Act violations while commercial halibut fishing in Alaska waters. Federal prosecutors announced the plea Tuesday.

Charles “Chuck” Petticrew Sr. and Charles “Jeff” Petticrew Jr. were charged with falsifying fishing locations in Individual Fishing Quota landing permits and Alaska Department of Fish and Game logbook entries and halibut tickets.

They identified nearly 4,000 pounds of halibut as being caught in area 3A, northwest of Cape Spencer. But they were fishing in area 2C, which is southeast of Cape Spencer. Federal prosecutors estimate the value of the illegally-caught fish at over $23,000. The violations took place between June 2010 and May 2013.

The Lacey Act prohibits the trade of wildlife that’s taken illegally.

Petticrew Sr. is charged with a felony count of conspiracy to falsify International Fishing Quota records. His son is facing a misdemeanor for falsifying fishing records.

The defendants have signed plea agreements with the government. Prosecutors will recommend Petticrew Sr. pay a fine of $90,000 and Petticrew Jr. pay a fine of $10,000. Under this agreement, they would also be on probation for five years and be required to have a vessel monitoring system on their boat during that time.

Prosecutors say Petticrew Jr. also submitted false information by signing the names of his father, mother and brother on IFQ landing reports. All four family members are part owners of the fishing vessel Arlice and members of a family corporation, according to court documents.

Federal charges against Petticrew Sr. and Petticrew Jr. were filed last week in U.S. District Court in Juneau.

Their sentencing is set for Jan. 4. The terms of their plea deal are subject to court approval.

The maximum sentence for the felony charge is five years in prison or a fine of $250,000, or both. The maximum sentence for the misdemeanor is one year in prison or a fine of $100,000, or both.

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