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Father of local fishing guide pleads not guilty

Michael W. Duby is one of nine connected with alleged poaching activities of son Michael P. Duby

Posted: December 9, 2011 - 12:08am

The father of alleged poacher and Juneau fishing guide Michael Patrick Duby, 37, pleaded not guilty to guiding for his son’s business without a valid license back in 2008.

On Thursday, Michael W. Duby, 63, of Arizona entered his plea by telephone from Mesa, Ariz., in Juneau District Court before Judge Keith Levy, as did two others who face fishing or hunting violations in connection with the younger Duby. Levy set a trial by jury date for Feb. 28, 2012 for the elder Duby’s case.

At least nine people so far have been charged or convicted with alleged poaching activities in connection with longtime Juneau charter boat operator and fishing guide Michael P. Duby, the owner and operator of FishHunter Charters in Juneau. And there’s more to come, Alaska Wildlife Troopers say.

“There’s still an ongoing investigation and there are other people that have yet to be charged at this time,” said Alaska Wildlife Trooper Aaron Frenzel, the lead investigator in the younger Duby’s Alaska case.

Michael P. Duby, who has a long list of charges levied against him in Alaska, was handed a federal indictment earlier this year for unlawfully selling migratory birds and bird parts and bear hide on eBay. That case is still pending. He was also charged and sentenced this year with illegally hunting in Montana in 2008 and 2009 with his father and a friend, Jeffrey C. Fritz, 42, of Washington. A Gallatin County, Mont., district judge sentenced him to 20 years in prison, with 20 years suspended, after he pleaded no contest in April. The Bozeman (Mont.) Daily Chronicle reported he had been “unable to admit” that they killed 19 antelope and numerous other game animals in Gallatin County without valid licenses, since the federal charges are still pending. The judge had also sentenced him to pay $15,500 in fines and restitution, and banned him from hunting, trapping, fishing or assisting in such activities in Montana for the rest of his life. Frenzel said that bans him from such activities in Alaska as well, according to Alaska state law.

“Alaska has a reciprocal law,” he explained, “so if you’re revoked from hunting, fishing or trapping in another state, you cannot obtain a hunting, fishing or trapping license in Alaska.”

A spokesperson with the Alaska Department of Fish & Game said Thursday both Michael P. and Michael W. are still currently licensed to operate, according to their books. Frenzel said that’s because licenses aren’t revoked until someone is found guilty and sentenced with a crime.

In Michael P. Duby’s case, he wasn’t sentenced until September for the Montana violations, long after he had applied for a license. That license will be good until Dec. 31, and he will not be allowed to receive one after that, said Frenzel.

Frenzel added that prior sentencing for Michael P. Duby only resulted in his license being revoked for a short period of time. After that time expired, he was allowed to reapply.

Michael W. Duby and Fritz had pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges in the Montana case, and the elder Duby was sentenced to two six-month suspended jail sentences for two misdemeanor charges of unlawful possession of game animals, the Daily Chronicle said.

Charges against nine other people, including Michael P. Duby’s brothers, have poured out one by one since the younger Duby’s federal indictment in June of this year. Indictments are not convictions, rather a formal accusation of illegal activity. Most of the charges have been levied by the Attorney General’s Office of Special Prosecutions and Appeals.

Implicated in the most recent string of charges were Benjamin Olson, 24, and Blake B. Coombs, 27. On Thursday, Olson entered a not guilty plea though his lawyer John Leque for killing and taking a beaver with a firearm on Admiralty Island in 2009. The charges are non-criminal, strict liability offenses that cannot result in jail time, only a fine.

Charging documents filed by Assistant Attorney General Andrew Peterson on Oct. 2 stated Olson was hunting for brown bears on Admiralty Island near the mouth of Bear Creek in Game Management Unit 4 on April 30, 2009, with Michael P. Duby. Olson said Duby asked him to shoot a beaver they saw on the beach, and that he did. The document states Olson admitted to shooting the beaver, which photos taken by Duby confirm. Duby skinned the beaver and later sent the hide off to be tanned, the criminal information states. Peterson stated the Alaska Administrative Code regulates the methods and means of taking fur bearers and specifically prohibits the taking of beaver with a firearm on Admiralty Island. State law also prohibits possession of game that is possessed or transported by a person “who knows or should have known” the animal was taken in violation of a regulation, the charges say.

Levy told Olson he could only be fined $500 if found guilty. A two-hour bench trial was scheduled for Jan. 30, 2012.

Levy ordered a bench warrant for Coombs’ arrest after he failed to appear for his arraignment for $250 bail in cash. Coombs was charged by OSPA on Nov. 2 for one count of baiting a black bear without a permit and another for intentionally aiding in taking of an over limit of halibut, both class ‘A’ misdemeanors. An Alaska Wildlife Troopers investigation found that Michael P. and Jason Duby and Coombs had been baiting black bears behind Michael P. Duby’s property in the 7200 block of Glacier Highway without a permit. The charging document states a trail camera Troopers posted captured photographs of Coombs at the bait site five separate days in June of 2009, and showed him placing a dinner plate near the bait bucket in one instance and setting up a propane burner and burning marshmallows as bait with Jason in another instance. The photographs also showed Jason baiting the site with dog food, pink and white marshmallows and a bag of fish, and hunting at the site with a bow. Troopers also observed a whole duck being used as bait. Alaska law prohibits waterfowl from being used as bait unless breast meat is removed, Peterson wrote.

Michael P. Duby was also shown adding bait to the site, the criminal information sheet read.

Coombs admitted to Troopers he had been at the site, but only to “hang out and drink beers,” the charge read.

The second charge against Coombs was leveled after two Troopers went undercover during a guided trip run by Michael P. Duby. Coombs was the deckhand. One Trooper caught four halibut and was allowed to retain two of them in violation of federal law, Peterson alleges.

“Coombs aided in this act and was in possession of the fish as the deckhand,” Peterson wrote. “Coombs later took both (Troopers’) licenses and listed one halibut per person on their respective license.”

Michael P. Duby’s brothers, Jason W. Duby, 36, and Joel M. Duby, 27, both of Washington, were charged last month with setting up a black bear bait station without a permit, and guiding without an operational license available for inspection, respectively. They are slated to be arraigned by telephone next week in Juneau District Court.

Twin brothers from Washington, Andrew and Jordan Morse, 26, pleaded guilty to non-criminal offenses for unlawful possession or transportation of game in January and March of this year, respectively. They each were sentenced to pay a $200 fine.

Also charged in connection to Duby were father and son Lee R. Leschper, 55, and William J. Leschper, 29. Lee was charged and pleaded guilty in January for one count of taking game from a motor driven boat, a class ‘A’ misdemeanor. Electronic court records show Judge Thomas Nave sentenced him to pay a fine of $5,000 with $2,000 suspended; 20 days of suspended jail time; to write a story for the Department of Fish & Game; to forfeit the hide; and revoked his hunting license for one year. He was also placed on unsupervised probation for 1,095 days. Lee is a former employee of the Juneau Empire.

William was charged and pleaded guilty in January to a non-criminal violation related to hunting seasons and bag limits for black bear units. Nave sentenced him to pay a fine of $500, electronic court dockets show.

The elder Duby faces one class ‘A’ misdemeanor charge of providing sport fishing guide services without holding a current sport fishing guide license, according to charging documents that were filed by Peterson last month. He was a licensed sport fishing guide for his son’s business in 2007.

The document alleges the elder Duby had guided a saltwater sport fishing charter of April 28, 2008, on the Brody after his 2007 license expired and before he applied for his 2008 license. Alaska Wildlife Troopers had discovered the discrepancy while reviewing saltwater sport fishing logbooks for FishHunter Charters.

Empire records reveal the younger Duby, Michael P. Duby, pleaded no contest in 2003 to charges of taking a brown bear in a closed area, hunting for brown bear without a guide, unsworn falsification, unlawful possession of a black bear, and false statements on three license applications. In 1999, he took a black bear under a false resident license.

• Contact reporter Emily Russo Miller at 523-2263 or at emily.miller@juneauempire.com.

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