February 16, 2012 | Vol. 39, No. 7

Fuglvog gets 5 months jail in fish case

ANCHORAGE (AP) — A man who sat on the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council and violated fishing regulations while a member was sentenced Friday to five months in federal prison.

Arne Fuglvog was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge H. Russel Holland, who said the real crime committed was not monetary but to the reputation of the agency responsible for regulating fishing.

In addition, Fuglvog will have to pay a $50,000 fine and pay $100,000 to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, which will be used to improve fish habitat in the Gulf of Alaska.

In a tearful statement to the court, Fuglvog expressed remorse for his actions and said he had no excuse for violating the regulations.

Fuglvog was also a former fisheries aide for U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska.

Fuglvog pleaded guilty in federal court in Anchorage last August to one count of violating the Lacey Act for falsely reporting where he caught sablefish that were intended for interstate commerce.

A plea agreement initially called for Fuglvog to serve 10 months in prison. However, in a sentencing memorandum filed last week, the government cited his cooperation in recommending a five-month sentence.

The charge in Fuglvog's case carries a maximum sentence of one year in imprisonment, $100,000 fine and one year of supervised release.

The falsified records earned Fuglvog an extra $100,000 from commercial fishing in the Gulf of Alaska.

He signed the plea deal in April, but it was made public in August when the agreement was filed the day after he resigned from Murkowski's staff.

According to the agreement, Fuglvog had a permit to harvest about 30,000 pounds of sablefish — considered a delicacy in many countries — from the western Yakatat area in 2005.

He actually caught about 63,000 pounds of fish in the area that year and then falsified records indicating he caught the extra 33,000 pounds of fish in the Central Gulf area, according to the court document.

Federal prosecutors say an investigation by law enforcement officers with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration led to an indictment in the case.

Federal prosecutors and Fuglvog also agree that he will make an announcement in the National Fisherman Magazine “acknowledging his wrongdoing,” the court papers state.

Fuglvog went to work in Murkowski's Washington office in 2006. His work largely focused on fisheries issues, but he also worked on transportation and Arctic issues, according to Murkowski.

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