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Fish & Wildlife SIU Investigation Leads to Convictions of 4 Brothers; $150,000 Fine Payment into Commercial Fish Fund
01/22/2009
John Bradley, Deputy District Attorney
Glen (JR) Ujifusa, Deputy District Attorney
Multnomah County District Attorneys Office
Office: (503) 988-3162
 
Sergeant Mary Chambers
OSP Fish & Wildlife Division
Office: (503) 934-0322

The Multnomah County District Attorney's Office (MCDA) announced the conviction and plea agreement involving four brothers following an investigation into allegations of commercial fishing law offenses on the Columbia River. The investigation by the Oregon State Police (OSP) Fish & Wildlife Division Special Investigations Unit (SIU) was conducted between October 25, 2005 and January 5, 2007.
 
According to MCDA Deputy District Attorneys John Bradley and Glen (JR) Ujifusa, on January 14, 2009, MICHAEL HEUKER, age 45, from Bellevue, Washington, and three other brothers identified as TIMOTHY HEUKER, age 42, THOMAS HEUKER, age 39, and DANIEL HEUKER, age 38, all from Cascade Locks, pled guilty through a plea agreement to one count each of "Falsifying Business Records". The State agreed to dismiss any pending charges against their corporation, Heuker Brothers, Inc.
 
As part of the plea agreement, the Heukers are paying $150,000 to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) Commercial Fish Fund, along with the adherence to a Compliance Plan for two years. If any of the brothers violate the compliance requirements, the State will request a sentencing hearing on any individual brother for "Falsifying Business Records."
 
The four Heuker brothers commercially gillnet salmon and sturgeon on the Columbia River and are partners of the wholesale fish dealer corporation. The four brothers fish the Columbia River and sell/deliver the fish to their own business.
 
OSP troopers assigned to the Fish & Wildlife Division's SIU observed and documented over 50 alleged commercial fish violations centered on falsifying fish tickets. Fish tickets, which are required by ODFW, are to be completed by the wholesale fish dealer to document fish caught. The tickets are to be signed by both the fisherman and the wholesale fish dealer stating the information is correct.
 
The gillnet fishery is a "limited entry" fishery wherein Oregon State law only allows up to 200 permits for the Columbia River. No new permits can be issued, but they can be transferred if a vessel is sold or replaced.
 
The industry is highly regulated by the Columbia River Compact, which consists of ODFW, State of Washington, federal agencies, the treaty Indian Tribes, and in some cases the State of Idaho to manage the anadromous fish runs and fisheries of the Columbia River. The Compact sets seasons and allows the catch, quota or limits. When the quota is met, the season is closed. Accurate reporting of fish caught is crucial to the management of the fish.