Owner of Kodiak ‘Stripper Boat’ Convicted of Dumping Sewage
ANCHORAGE, AK—U.S. Attorney Karen L. Loeffler announced today that after a nine-day trial, a federal jury found Darren K. Byler, 55, resident of Kodiak, Alaska, guilty of violating the Refuse Act and Making False Statements. The jury found his wife, Kimberly Riedel-Byler not guilty of the same charges.
According to the evidence at trial, Kimberly Riedel-Byler and Darren K. Byler were the owners of the Wild Alaskan, a floating strip club anchored in Kodiak Harbor between June 2014 and November 2014. On the Wild Alaskan was a customer bathroom for patrons and an employee bathroom for dancers and other staff. During its operation, more than 1,000 customers visited the Wild Alaskan. Also present on the vessel during some or all of that time were the Bylers, their six-year-old daughter, a nanny, and between three and six dancers.
Sewage from both bathrooms was piped to flow directly overboard into the waters of Kodiak Harbor. Evidence establishing this fact included the absence of any storage facilities on board the Wild Alaskan capable of containing sewage. In addition, video evidence from early November 2014, showed no systems on board the vessel capable of storing and properly disposing of sewage. Finally, during a search of the vessel on December 9, 2014, law enforcement found no storage tanks, hoses, pumps, or bladders on board the vessel to indicate the proper storage and disposal of sewage. In addition, 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 about his sewage disposal from the Wild Alaskan, Darren Byler gave the United States Coast Guard Marine Safety Detachment Kodiak a false ship’s log. In the log the defendant claimed to have disposed of 1,500 gallons of raw sewage from the Wild Alaskan at the Pier 2 sewage disposal facility in Kodiak Harbor on July 29 and 30, 2014. The defendant also claimed to have disposed of five additional 800 gallon loads of sewage in September and October 2014, by transporting it in his landing craft, the Gulf Coast Responder, and dumping it at sea beyond three nautical miles.
Multiple witnesses testified to not seeing Darren Byler at Pier 2 off-loading sewage at any time on either July 29 or July 30, 2014. The only witness who saw Byler at the facility testified that his vessel was away from the pier, and that there was no equipment in the vessel that could be used to carry or pump sewage. When inspected by Harbor Master employees, the Pier 2 sewage pipe was dry with no evidence of having ever been used.
In addition, flight records and video evidence introduced at trial showed the defendant was not present in Kodiak, Alaska, on two of the days he claimed to have traveled off-shore to dump sewage. Rather, on those days the defendant was at his home in a remote area of Kodiak Island. On a third day, the defendant was present in Anchorage for most of the day, arriving in Kodiak in the late afternoon. Cell phone messages from that day show that the defendant did not leave the Wild Alaskan after his arrival back into Kodiak.
The case was the product of an investigation by multiple United States Coast Guard units and law enforcement agencies, to include the United States Coast Guard Investigative Service, the United States Coast Guard Marine Safety Detachment Kodiak, the FBI, and the Kodiak Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Kyle Reardon and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Lt. Cmdr. William George prosecuted the case.
Darren Byler is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Sharon L. Gleason on March 28, 2016.
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. Any sentence, however, would be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.