Now it's the 72-year-old skipper of a luxury cruise ship who’s in trouble with Alaska State Troopers for, they say, illegally claiming to be an Alaska resident. Troopers in Sitka have charged Robert Joseph Stevens with lying to obtain "a resident permanent hunting and fishing license." The resident permanent license is available to Alaskans age 60 and older.
It's a free license good for as long as older residents live, and stay, in Alaska. The benefit isn't available to non-residents, who must pay $230 per year for an annual hunting-and-fishing license, no matter their age.
Troopers say Stevens, co-owner of Alaska & NW Charters, is a resident of Goleta, Calif. -- not Alaska. Alaska & NW Charters operates the 95-foot motor yacht Caledonia in Southeast Alaska. The Caledonia has been touted among the creme de la creme of luxury cruises in the 49th state. The company pitches its exclusivity on its website: "If you like to be pampered, consider the level of personal service offered onboard the M/Y Calaedonia. The ship has ample space for 4-8 guests in separate state rooms and 4/5 crew members who will attend to your every need."
That crew includes a five-star chef. The website does not list prices, apparently on the premise that if you have to know, you can't afford it.
Troopers have this year made a number of high-profile cases against owners of tourism and commercial fishing businesses who, they say, don't spend enough time in the 49th state but claim the benefits of residency. Tom Ohaus, the owner of Angling Unlimited in Sitka, appeared on the verge of being named to the prestigious International Pacific Halibut Commission when troopers busted him in May. Troopers charged that though he might once have been an Alaska resident, he lost his Alaska residency when he signed papers for the mortgage on a second home that gave him a special protection from creditors specific to residents of the state of Massachusetts. Ohaus is fighting the charge.
Then in July, troopers charged Yakutat commercial fishermen David Negus, owner of a small fishing processing company called "Mystic Salmon," with lying about his residency to obtain a subsistence permit to catch salmon for his freezer.
Subsistence permits are available only to Alaska residents, and troopers said Negus hadn't spent the full year living in the state that is required to become a resident for hunting and fishing purposes. A state attorney later dismissed the charge after Negus argued that the Alaska Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission, which manages commercial fishing permits in the state, had previously declared him a resident of the 49th state.
Contact Craig Medred at craig(at)alaskadispatch.com