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After a nine-day trial, the Justice Department revealed Wednesday, that the co-owner of the Kodiak “Strip Boat,” ” Wild Alaskan,” Darren Byler, was found guilty of violating the Refuse Act as well as making false statements.
The case is in connection with his pumping raw sewage from the bathroom aboard his floating strip club that operated at anchor just off-shore of Kodiak between June and November of 2014. According to prosecutors, Byler operated his strip club with one bathroom that served the customers, strippers, and other staff for the duration of the club’s operation last year. It is estimated that during that time, Byler served more than 1,000 customers aboard the vessel.
Evidence at trial showed that Byler operated his club while piping the resulting raw sewage directly overboard instead of piping into a storage tank as directed by law. This was determined by video evidence in November, as well as inspection by law enforcement in December of that year. According to prosecutors, “law enforcement found no storage tanks, hoses, pumps, or bladders on board the vessel to indicate the proper storage and disposal of sewage.” They added, “expert testimony established that marine growth present on the customer bathroom discharge pipe could only have established itself in the spring and summer of 2014.”
When asked to produce documentation by the Coast Guard concerning his sewage disposal, Byler, in turn, gave the USCG false vessel logs claiming to have disposed of 1,500 gallons of raw sewage at the Pier 2 dock in Kodiak on July 29th and 30th, as well as claiming to have disposed of an additional five loads of 800 gallons each three-miles off-shore via his landing craft, the “Gulf Coast Responder.”
But, witnesses denied ever seeing Byler at the dock either of those two days. Also additional witnesses stated that Byler did not have a pumping system aboard his vessel to transfer the waste into the Pier 2 sewage pipes. Further, Harbor Master employees inspected the sewage pipes at the pier and stated that the pipes there had never been used.
Additional video and flight evidence was presented in court showing that Byler was not even present in Kodiak during the time he stated he had disposed of sewage off-shore. It was shown in court that Byler was instead at his home in a remote part of the island for two of those days and in Anchorage on another. Upon his return, prosecutors showed cell phone records proving that Byler never left the vessel.
According to the Justice Department, “The maximum statutory penalty for a violation of the Refuse Act, 33 U.S.C. §§ 407 and 411, is not less than 30 days and up to one year imprisonment, fine of up to $25,000 for each day of a violation, a one-year term of supervised release, and a $25 special assessment. The maximum statutory penalty for a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1001, False Statements, is up to five years imprisonment, a fine of up to $250,000, a two-year term of supervised release, and a $100 special assessment.”
Byler’s wife, Kimberly Riedel-Byler, the co-owner of the stripping venture, was found “not guilty” of the same charges as Darren Byler’s.
Byler’s sentencing is scheduled for March 28th, 2016.