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Myers pleads guilty to probation violations

AWA members file victims' memorandum; final disposition set for June 16

Posted: June 2, 2011 - 8:28pm

A Juneau man on probation for multiple big game hunting violations admitted he broke his probation in an adjudication hearing Thursday in Juneau District Court.

Park Myers’ public defender Kevin Higgins acknowledged his client’s admission of a parole violation before Judge Keith Levy and also said the agreement with the state was Myers would spend 30 days in prison.

“However, we are putting off disposition for a period of about two weeks,” Higgins said. “And will proceed at that time. The date of disposition is the date that Mr. Myers will report to serve his time.”

District Attorney Dave Brower agreed to the disposition.

Levy read the probation violation as being one of theft, misrepresentation, and false statements based after Myers accepted money for performing work while also accepting unemployment insurance claims.

“Is he still going to be subject to criminal liability?” Levy asked. “And is there an issue of restitution?”

Brower said the state is not made aware of these types of cases unless contacted by the Department of Labor, and in this case Labor is not pursuing anything further so the state is not filing criminal charges.

Levy told Myers that, although the unemployment fraud was not itself a criminal offense, it did violate his probation. Levy accepted Myers’ admission of guilt and said he would make a decision on accepting the disposition agreement at a June 16 hearing.

The Alaska Wildlife Alliance’s Southeast chapter issued a press release following the hearing stating their concern justice had not been served in the illegal taking of two bears and a wolf by Myers and Jeffrey Peacock; that Levy did not have all relevant information at the original sentencing; that the victims were present and ready to testify at Myers’ last court hearing but were told they could not and that Myers is a known flight risk.

Signed by AWA-SE President Tina Brown, the release states the group is dedicated to the protection of Alaska’s wildlife and has a duty and responsibility to see that wildlife laws are enforced, and this is a high profile case with serious implications.

Myers originally pleaded guilty to unlawfully taking big game by using a rim fire cartridge to take a wolf and unlawful possession of that wolf, as well as establishing a black bear station to hunt bear using bait or scent lures without a permit, and two counts of unlawful possession of game. Myers was sentenced on Nov. 4, 2010 to a total of 330 days in jail, all suspended; $12,500 in fines with $7,500 suspended, additional restitution of $1,100, forfeiture of three rifles and interest in the hides generated, and a suspension of his hunting license for two years.

Local attorney Jeffrey Sauer filed a victims’ disposition memorandum Wednesday, requesting Myers case be settled Thursday. Sauer was present in court with Juneau residents Harry Robinson, Nick Jans and Joel Bennett. Jans and Bennett are seeking to testify as victims, alleging Myers taking of the black wolf known as Romeo inflicted emotional distress and loss of income.

The memorandum further requested that, if the case was not disposed Thursday, the men sseking to testify as victims and their attorney be consulted as to when the disposition would take place.

The memo also indicated that they wanted to see disposition happen, if time is available, directly after adjudication, fearing that Myers was a flight risk. The men seeking to testify as victims wrote that Myers liquidated assets, sold vehicles, gotten rid of pets, and had few ties to Juneau anymore.

“We were in court on April 6,” Sauer stated. “It has been two months. It looks like the parties were in agreement two months ago; this looks like a situation for delay for delay’s sake. The victims are certainly not in agreement with that and there is no reason to put this off more than a day or two.”

Sauer said the men seeking to testify as victims would need no more than five minutes each to speak at disposition.

Higgins countered the contention the delay was unwarranted.

“It is nice that people can get representation like that,” Higgins said. “One of the things I have concerns about are these representations that ‘this is just delay for delay’s sake,’ when nobody has actually come to talk to the public defender about what our possible schedules are, what our plan is predisposition, what our plans are for submitting a disposition memorandum on whether the court should accept the agreement, let alone the schedule that has been up in the air because of vacancies upcoming with Superior Court. It is not like we are just delaying for delay’s sake, but I appreciate Mr. Sauer has gone through the time to submit this disposition memorandum.”

Higgins stated the memorandum asserted facts that are not supported but were just hearsay and if people were going to testify against Myers than they would, at the very least, be subject to cross-examination.

Levy said he was concerned both the district attorney’s office and Myers' previous attorney represented Myers had no prior criminal history during the sentencing for the hunting violations, and Levy had since received material from Sauer that Myers did have a prior record.

Brower stated there was no criminal history in Alaska but in a crime report from Pennsylvania there were charges, some dismissed, and the state had no intention to mislead the court. Brower read from a plea agreement in that Pennsylvania case, dated in 2000, showing four charges. One was not prosecuted. Myers pleaded guilty to corruption of minors and furnishing liquor to minors. The victim in that case, Megan Kline, stated that the pleas were to save her from any additional discomfort of a trial, as Myers had molested her in front of his wife. Since the Pennsylvania case was adjudicated, Kline has reached the age of majority and has consented to her name being made public.

Levy set disposition for one hour on June 16 and will allow the three individuals to speak. Levy also said that a lot of the submitted material is hearsay and is not supported, and therefore would not consider it.

Sauer argued the material was sourced and therefore under the law should apply.

“I think if Mr. Myers takes the stand and denies them then he has the right to cross-examine any witnesses,” Levy said.

Higgins asked that anyone who speaks be sworn in as a witness and Sauer said they were victims and as such had a right to speak as any other victim and there was no requirement that they be sworn.

“I would suggest that the state is the one that calls victims,” Sauer said. “We have not great relationship with the state so we have no ability to even call these since we are not a party here. But as victims they have a right to speak.”

Levy said he did not make a decision that they were victims in the sense of the Victim’s Rights Act.

“My conclusion was that they had information the court could consider,” Levy said. “I will take that under consideration as to whether or not they be required to swear under oath. In fairness, if people are going to be making factual allegations than I think the defendant has the right to question them about those things.”

Sauer stated he would not be available on June 16 if his clients were to be sworn in.

“I am willing to hear things and then I will make a decision on whether I can actually consider them at the sentencing,” Levy said.

Sauer agreed, saying it hinged on the sworn testimony of the defendant.

• Contact reporter Klas Stolpe at 523-2263 or at klas.stolpe@juneauempire.com.

Editor's note: This story has been edited to reflect Judge Keith Levy's concerns Myers' previous attorney had represented his client had no criminal history. Myers is currently represented by public defender Kevin Higgins. It has also been changed to reflect the fact Nick Jans and Joel Bennet are not suing Myers, but are seeking to testify as victims before his case is resolved.

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