Fuglvog's ex-partner indicted on fishing-records charges

Associated PressDecember 19, 2011 

JUNEAU -- An Oregon man who once operated a fishing vessel co-owned by a former fisheries aide to Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski has been indicted on charges of fishing in one area and falsely reporting the fish were caught in another area.

Freddie Joe Hankins is scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday in Anchorage. His attorney, David Smith, said Monday that Hankins will plead not guilty.

According to charging documents, Hankins was an operator and individual fishing quota permit holder aboard the Kamilar. The vessel was once co-owned by Arne Fuglvog, who is not named in the documents.

Fuglvog resigned from Murkowski's staff shortly before a plea deal with prosecutors was made public in August. As part of that deal, Fuglvog pleaded guilty to falsely reporting where he caught sablefish intended for interstate commerce. He is scheduled to be sentenced in February.

Hankins is charged in a six-count indictment on charges of false statements and false records of fish sold in interstate commerce. Between 2006 and 2007, the indictment alleges he falsely reported the location of harvest for 16,706 pounds of sablefish and 31,113 pounds of halibut.

The indictment was handed up Friday. A criminal complaint was filed Oct. 31.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Aunnie Steward declined to say whether Fuglvog would testify in the case, or if he provided information related to it.

Kevin Heck, a special agent with NOAA Fisheries law enforcement, said in an affidavit that law enforcement agents interviewed Hankins in July 2009. According to Heck, Hankins said the individual fishing quota program did not consider historic fishing grounds when an arbitrary line was designated.

He also said, "the fish don't give a damn where the line is," according to Heck's affidavit.

The charges against Hankins carry a maximum sentence of five years in prison, a $250,000 fine, or both, the U.S. attorney's office said.

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