Washington Man Guilty of Illegal Halibut Purchases

A former Ketchikan, Alaska, restaurant owner now living in Mt. Vernon, Washington, has been found guilty in federal court in Juneau of violating the Lacey Act for commercial purchase of halibut caught for subsistence and sport purposes.
Donald Ray Thornlow, former owner and operator of the former Narrows Inn and Restaurant in Ketchikan, pled guilty to a single count of a Lacey Act violation before US Magistrate Judge Leslie Longenbaugh, said US Attorney Karen Loeffler.
According to information presented to the court on Oct. 19, Thornlow took part in a continuing scheme to purchase subsistence and sport caught halibut for resale in his restaurant, a violation of federal regulations.
Thornlow pled guilty to purchasing at least 997 pounds of illegally-caught halibut from three fishermen, whom he paid significantly less than he would have paid for legally harvested halibut.
Under terms of the plea agreement, Thornlow will pay a $5,000 fine and be placed on probation for one year.

Prior to imposing the sentence, Longenbaugh highlighted the seriousness of the offense and the need to deter the defendant and others, as well as the need to protect Alaska fishery resources as the reason for imposing the sentence.