ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — An Alaska man convicted of illegally dumping human waste into a harbor from a floating strip club he was operating has been spared serving prison time.
Darren Byler instead was sentenced in Anchorage Monday to five years of probation and ordered to pay a $10,000 fine, in increments of no less than $2,000 a year, beginning this year. U.S. District Judge Sharon Gleason warned Byler that failure to pay the fine could result in him going to prison.
Federal prosecutors were seeking an 18-month prison term.
Byler, who plans to appeal the case, has repeatedly said he was targeted because of disapproval over the business he ran on the 94-foot "Wild Alaskan," a converted crabbing boat. Speaking to the court before his sentence was handed up, he said the prison term sought by prosecutors was overkill. He repeatedly called it a "poop charge."
"This case was all about an emotionally charged political witch hunt" by various entities, including the Coast Guard and the prosecution, he said in a written statement released after the sentencing.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Kyle Reardon noted the "very, very serious conduct" involved.
"This is not an inconsequential case," he said. "This is not a trivial case."
Byler was convicted in 2015 of dumping sewage in misdemeanor violation of the federal Refuse Act and for a felony charge of lying to federal authorities about it. His wife, Kimberly Riedel-Byler, was found not guilty of the same charges.
Federal prosecutors aid Byler piped sewage aboard Wild Alaskan bathrooms into the harbor near Kodiak in 2014. The Bylers were accused of telling the Coast Guard they were properly disposing of the waste.
Reardon has said evidence showed the U.S. Coast Guard tried to work with Byler to bring his waste disposal practices into compliance.
Byler twice asked for a new trial but the requests were denied.
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 that an overloaded water taxi took patrons to the converted vessel.
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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