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Inhospitable treatment

Lodge employees accused of drunkenly using guns to threaten guests

Posted: July 22, 2014 - 12:58pm  |  Updated: July 22, 2014 - 11:01pm
A screenshot from the Icy Bay Lodge website shows the pictures and biographies of employees Michael G. York, right, and Devon G. Fernandez. The two are accused of threatening two guests at the lodge with a gun while intoxicated.  Courtesy photo
Courtesy photo
A screenshot from the Icy Bay Lodge website shows the pictures and biographies of employees Michael G. York, right, and Devon G. Fernandez. The two are accused of threatening two guests at the lodge with a gun while intoxicated.

Two employees at a fishing lodge near Yakutat are facing criminal charges for allegedly brandishing a firearm at two of the lodge’s guests and threatening to kill them.

A Juneau grand jury indicted Michael G. York, 26, and Devon G. Fernandez, 35, employees of Icy Bay Lodge, on Friday on multiple felony counts of third-degree assault for the June 27 incident. They also are facing misdemeanor charges for assault and weapons misconduct for possessing a firearm while intoxicated. They were arraigned Tuesday in Juneau Superior Court.

Prosecutors say the defendants were drunk when they became upset with a man, identified in court documents as Steve Gorin, at the lodge about 150 miles west of Yakutat. Gorin owns a small gold exploration and mining company based out of Diablo, Calif., called Orovada Exploration & Mining, Inc., and was staying at the lodge on a business trip with his assistant, Amy Oakley.

The reason York, a guide at Icy Bay Lodge, and Fernandez, the lodge’s boat captain, were upset at Gorin was not disclosed in court documents and prosecutors did not return calls Monday or Tuesday seeking comment.

According to an affidavit, York went into Gorin’s cabin and threatened him, which prompted Oakley to run and get help. York and Fernandez then got into a physical altercation with Gorin outside the cabin.

Other lodge employees ­broke up the fight, but the incident did not end there, court documents show. Immediately afterward, York returned to the cabin with a rifle and threatened to kill Gorin, according to a police complaint.

“They stated they were afraid of being shot by the defendant as he wildly thrust the weapon in their direction,” Yakutat Police Department Officer Jean Achee wrote in his complaint.

Achee also noted the victims described York as extremely intoxicated. Achee was not available for comment Monday, nor was the Yakutat police chief.

York was also charged with assaulting one of the lodge employees, Tara Davis, who was present at the scene, by allegedly placing her in fear of danger with the gun.

An affidavit alleges that later that evening, Gorin and Oakley said they saw Fernandez holding a firearm across from the cabin in a threatening manner.

Yakutat police received a 911 call about the incident shortly after midnight and responded the next morning. Achee and an Alaska State Trooper flew to the lodge, about a 30-minute seaplane flight from Yakutat, and placed the defendants in custody and secured the firearms.

Police found York’s Mini-14 rifle “broken and thrown” into the woods near the lodge, according to the complaint. It was recovered with a loaded magazine and a live cartridge in the chamber, police said.

Two shotguns, both loaded and chambered, were also recovered from inside Fernandez’ cabin, prosecutors say.

When reached by email Monday, Icy Bay Lodge owner Todd Robertson said he did not have any comment at this time. Court records show he testified in a bail hearing relating to the case earlier this month and that he said he was shocked to hear of the alleged act of violence. He said it seemed “completely out of character” for both employees, whom he described as hardworking and with an unblemished work history at the lodge.

York was released from custody on $10,000 cash bail July 2, court documents show. He is staying at his parents’ residence near Denver, Colo., a move that was not opposed by the state and was granted by the court. His attorney, Robert Herz, based in Anchorage, did not respond to emails Tuesday.

Likewise, records show Fernandez posted $5,0000 bail — reduced from $10,000 — on July 7. At a bail hearing, he asked the judge for permission to return to Icy Bay Lodge because he lives there year-round. Robertson testified on his behalf, saying he wants Fernandez back because he is “vital” to the lodge’s operation and has worked there for seven or eight years. Juneau District Court Judge Keith Levy agreed to the request on the condition that Fernandez not possess alcohol or firearms or have contact with the victims in the case.

Fernandez’s Juneau attorney, Kevin Higgins, declined to comment on the case when reached by email Monday.

Electronic court records show neither York nor Fernandez have a criminal history in Alaska.

According to its website, Icy Bay Lodge bills itself as a remote lodge in rugged Southeast Alaska that specializes in fly fishing for silver salmon. New owners Robertson and Marc Lenart, both Colorado residents, bought the lodge from its founder, Pete Grimm, in early 2014.

Gorin was reached for comment by phone Tuesday but declined to comment per his attorney’s instructions. He said a civil lawsuit may result from the incident.

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

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