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KENAI, Alaska-Today, the owner of Wise Guide Outfitters of Cooper Landing, Thomas W. Murray, is due in court to answer to the charges of Scheming to Defraud, four counts of Theft in the Second Degree, a count of Unsworn Falsification, and one count of False Information on a Fishing License.
On December 8th, he was charged with these crimes in Kenai District Court. The charges come after an investigation that spanned over a year, beginning on September 6th of 2010.
It was last fall as the 2010 tourist season was winding down that the Alaska Wildlife Investigation Unit received a complaint against 35 year old Murray. It triggered the investigation that included the assistance of the Alaska Department of Revenue’s Criminal Unit and the Utah Department of Wildlife Resources. Murray was alleged to have failed to provide all-inclusive fishing vacations that included transportation to and from Anchorage and Cooper Landing, five full days of guided fishing trips, all meals, six nights lodging as well as campfires and sightseeing tours.
According to the Alaska State Troopers, the year-long investigation revealed that Murray, who currently resides in Cedar Hills, Utah, utilized E-Bay to sell all-inclusive fishing vacations for the 2010 and 2011 seasons.Murray sold fishing packages to 29 parties comprised of almost 70 clients for more than $90,0000. He failed to fulfill his obligations to provide some or all of these vacation packages.
The investigation also revealed that Murray also failed to pay local area businesses that included local lodges, a local fishing charter operation, and fishing guides, for services rendered during the 2010 season. It was found that Murray failed to pay those businesses over $29,000 for the services that they rendered to Murray and his clients during the 2010 season.
The charge of Scheming to Defraud carries penalties of up to ten years in prison and fines of up to $100,000. It is a Class B Felony. Theft in the Second Degree, a Class C Felony, can be punished by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $50,000.
Cooper Landing, the location of Wise Guide Outfitters, is named after a miner named Joseph Cooper, who discovered gold there in 1848. It has a population of under 400 people. Cooper Landing is a popular tourist destination because of its proximity to Kenai Lake and the Salmon rich Kenai River.