Sentencing reset for Alaska strip club owner in dumping case

AP News
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Posted: Jan 19, 2017 8:43 PM

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A sentencing hearing has been rescheduled for an Alaska man who was found guilty of illegally dumping human waste into a harbor from a converted crabbing boat he was operating as a floating strip club.

Darren Byler had been scheduled for a Thursday sentencing. But his attorney, John Cashion, said Byler's flight from Kodiak Island was delayed and the sentencing is now set for 3:30 p.m. Friday.

Federal prosecutors have recommended 18 months in prison for Darren Byler.

In a sentencing memorandum, Cashion asks that the court consider a fine and probation rather than prison time, adding that Byler is "especially needed as a partner to his wife and family in a frontier subsistence environment."

Byler's wife in a letter to U.S. District Judge Sharon Gleason asked for her husband to be kept out of prison, claiming he was unfairly convicted of a felony.

"This was and has always been about getting rid of the 'stripper boat,' " Kimberly Riedel-Byler wrote. "It was about the dancers from beginning to end."

Byler was convicted in December 2015 of dumping sewage in violation of the federal Refuse Act and lying to federal authorities. The maximum penalty is five years in prison for the false statements and $25,000 for each violation of the federal Refuse Act.

Riedel-Byler was found not guilty of the same charges.

Byler piped raw sewage from bathrooms aboard the 94-foot "Wild Alaskan" boat into the harbor near Kodiak in 2014 instead of taking it 3 miles offshore and told the Coast Guard that the waste had been disposed of properly, prosecutors have said.

The Wild Alaskan opened for business in June 2014 and encountered problems early on.

The floating bar was briefly shut down by the Coast Guard after someone reported a water taxi taking patrons to the vessel was overloaded.

The Coast Guard also found the boat had an expired locator beacon, expired inflatable devices on two life rafts and inoperable navigation sidelights.

Byler said at the time that he believed his troubles happened because people disapproved of the exotic dancers aboard his boat.

The boat operated as a strip club until late 2014, court documents said.

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