Crime & Courts

Feds charge father, son with Alaska halibut fishing conspiracy

Federal prosecutors have charged a Wrangell father and son who run a family-owned Gulf of Alaska fishing business with fishing thousands of pounds of halibut from one area but reporting their catches came from another.

Charles Petticrew Sr. has been charged with a single count of conspiracy for falsifying individual fishing quota (IFQ) records for more than three years, according to federal charges filed Tuesday in Juneau.

Petticrew and his family worked together "to submit false locations for the statistical areas where halibut were caught on federal IFQ forms, Alaska Department of Fish and Game Longline Fishery Logbook entries and halibut tickets," the charges say.

The logbook and tickets were submitted to Fish and Game, prosecutors said.

In all, Petticrew and his son allegedly faked records relating to about 4,000 pounds of halibut, which federal prosecutors valued at $23,375.

State records show Petticrew owns and operates the fishing vessel Arlice, a 25-ton wooden boat built in 1945. His family uses the boat to fish halibut, sablefish and other Gulf species, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Jack Schmidt.

Petticrew fished in the Yakutat area but his permit called for fishing in the middle of the state's southern coast, closer to Kodiak Island, Schmidt said. The charges cover fishing from June 2010 to September 2013.

"It was just easier for him to fish there, and then he documented everything as being caught elsewhere," the prosecutor said.

Petticrew's son, Charles Petticrew Jr., reported false information on the IFQ reports by signing his father's name 25 times, as well as signing the names of other family members who hold permits, according to the charges.

Prosecutors have charged the son with a misdemeanor Lacey Act violation, a federal that law bans the trade of illegally sourced wildlife.

Petticrew Sr. did not return a call for comment Tuesday evening. He faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted on the conspiracy charge, according to the charges.

Petticrew, through his attorney, filed paperwork Wednesday stating his intention to change his plea in his case.

Schmidt said such cases aren't that rare, though many are handled in civil court by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

"If there's a case reviewed that warrants criminal prosecution as opposed to civil, that decision is made between the two agencies," he said.

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