By Rick Smeriglio for SCN – State of Alaska has charged James T. Hubbard, age 58, and his wife Rhonda Anderson-Hubbard, age 52, with perjury, a class C felony, and several misdemeanors in connection with their fishing business, J&R Fisheries of Seward. In a trial that began April 7, the State presented witnesses that testified to actions the Hubbards took that allegedly violated their Alaska Department of Fish & Game license as direct marketers of fish. State of Alaska alleges eight felonies and nine misdemeanors in total against the Hubbards and against their business as a separate entity. In the most serious charges, the state alleges that the Hubbards committed felony perjury when they spoke to a sworn, investigative officer of Alaska Wildlife Troopers in 2012. Just before 1:00 pm on Monday the 14, State Prosecutor Karen Holly rested the State’s case.
The Hubbards live in Seward and operate F/V Kruzof, a 59-foot, purple hulled, long liner generally moored at the head of F-Float in Seward small boat harbor. Coast Guard records list Kruzof Fisheries, a limited liability corporation, as owner of the boat. State records show the Hubbards as principals of Kruzof Fisheries LLC.
Through their business, the Hubbards catch and market fish from state and federal waters in Alaska. In Alaska commercial fisheries, licensed buyers of fish issue “fish tickets” to licensed catchers of fish. Fish tickets detail amounts and kinds of fish landed, bought from whom, when and where. Neither the Hubbards not their business has a license to buy fish; only to catch it, sell it and market it.
In court records, State of Alaska alleges that in 2008/2009, the Hubbards falsified information on fish tickets when they sold fish to Resurrection Bay Seafoods. The state alleges that the Hubbards falsely characterized commercially caught fish as fish caught for personal use. The state further alleges that the Hubbards went on to sell that fish directly to consumers and thereby evade certain taxes the state levies on commercial fish sold to wholesale buyers. Additionally, the state alleges that the Hubbards improperly bought fish from crewmembers on F/V Kruzof who themselves had license to catch and sell fish.
After oral and written argumentation, Superior Court Judge Anna M. Moran of Kenai, dismissed perjury charges. She reasoned that because the law did not require that the Hubbards both pay and collect taxes, and they had in fact paid taxes on the fish in question (although belatedly) the state could not charge them with perjury when they said that they did not buy fish and so, did not owe tax. State Prosecutor Karen Holly accepted that reasoning. A charge of attempted perjury, a class B felony, remains against James T. Hubbard
In another action, Judge Moran dismissed one charge of submitting false information on a fish ticket lodged against Rhonda-Anderson Hubbard. The Judge reasoned that although the original submittal by James T. Hubbard contained errors, the amended submittal by Rhonda Anderson-Hubbard, acting with power of attorney for James T. Hubbard, corrected the errors and therefore the state could not hold her liable for original errors.
At the close of business on Monday the 14, Judge Moran instructed the jury to return for deliberation on Tuesday. Attorneys for the state and for the Hubbards had still to negotiate instructions to the jury. The Hubbards elected to not testify on their own behalf.
When asked by Seward City News if she planned to change her business model of fish catcher/processor/marketer because of this case, Rhonda Anderson-Hubbard answered without hesitation.
Hubbard said, “Absolutely not.”
Later she amended her answer to say that she would more closely scrutinize the details of fish ticket codes.