David M. Demers, 56, and Reginald D. Krkovich, 67, both of Yakutat, and Daniel Lee Hertzog, 52, a resident of Pleasant Hill, Mo., were sentenced Wednesday by U.S. District Judge Timothy M. Burgess in Anchorage for illegal brown bear guiding and witness tampering, according to a press release from United States Attorney Karen Loeffler
Demers was sentenced to pay a fine of $5,000, forfeit his hunting rifle and was placed on three years probation with a no hunting condition as well as six months home confinement, for conspiring to violate the Lacey Act and witness tampering.
Krkovich was sentenced to a term of three years probation, no hunting for the three-year term and ordered to pay a fine of $10,000 for a felony violation of the Lacey Act and a felony violation of witness tampering.
Hertzog was sentenced to two years probation, a fine of $10,000, no hunting for two years and forfeiture of the illegally killed bear and his hunting rifle for committing a violation of the Lacey Act.
According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Skrocki, who prosecuted the case, Demers and Krkovich admitted they conspired with each other to illegally guide and transport two Missouri hunters for brown bear. Both later tampered with one of the non-resident hunters by calling him and asking the hunter to destroy evidence.
Skrocki informed the court during these proceedings that Krkovich and Demers, neither of whom was a registered guide, transporter or outfitter, conspired with each other to assist Missouri residents Daniel and Jerry Hertzog in the illegal taking of a brown bear in 2007.
Skrocki explained that in September 2007, the Hertzogs cancelled a contracted hunt after receiving negative reports of the contracted guides’ services. Krkovich offered to let Daniel Hertzog use his recently acquired brown bear tag, while Demers acted as an unlicensed transporter for the group’s gear.
Over a period of several days, Krkovich and Demers were present in the field, specifically the Esker Stream area of the Wrangell-St. Elias National Preserve, when Daniel Hertzog killed a brown bear.
As part of his plea, Krkovich admitted Daniel Hertzog killed the brown bear who thenused Krkovich’s bear tag to tag the brown bear.
In connection with his plea of guilty, Krkovich admitted to falsely tagging the bear with his tag and providing false information to the Alaska Department of Fish & Game for stating falsely on a brown bear sealing certificate that he (Krkovich) shot the brown bear. Demers admitted to acting as an unlicensed transporter carrying gear for the hunting party to the field.
As to the second count of witness tampering, Krkovich and Demers admitted to contacting Daniel Hertzog by phone on several occasions with the intention to corruptly persuade him not to cooperate with federal agents investigating the case and to conceal incriminating evidence.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service led the investigation with significant the support of Alaska Wildlife Troopers.