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Published April 10, 2013, 03:43 PM

10 accused of poaching hundreds of thousands of dollars in fish from Red Lake, Leech Lake reservations

Federal prosecutors have filed indictments against 10 people accused with illegally poaching and marketing hundreds of thousands of dollars in walleye and other protected fish on the Red Lake and Leech Lake Indian reservations.

By: Steve Wagner, Forum News Service

RED LAKE – Federal prosecutors have filed indictments against 10 people accused with illegally poaching and marketing hundreds of thousands of dollars in walleye and other protected fish on the Red Lake and Leech Lake Indian reservations.

The indictments charge the men with one count of transportation, sale, and purchase of fish taken in violation of the Lacey Act, according to a news release issued Wednesday by the United States Attorney’s Office in Minneapolis.

Prosecutors filed indictments against the following:

- Larry W. Bellefy, 53, of Bagley

– Thomas P. Sumner, 54, of Red Lake

– Brian W. Holthusen, 47, of Red Lake

– Michael D. Brown, 54, no known address

– Michael J. Nei, 48, of Bemidji

– Jerry A. Reyes, 51, of Cass Lake

– Marc L. Lyons, 61, of Bena

– Frederick W. Tibbetts, 61, of Bena

– Alan D. Hemme, 55, of Bena

– Larry Good, 58, of Red Lake

According to a news release from the United States Attorney’s Office, the defendants “knowingly engaged in conduct that involved the sale and purchase of fish with a market value in excess of $350.”

Bellefy, Sumner, and Holthusen are accused of taking fish from Red Lake between July 2009 and July 2011 without the approval of the Red Lake Fisheries Association. The indictment specifically asserts that Sumner and Holthusen obtained the fish and then sold them to Bellefy, who resold them.

Brown and Nei are accused of netting fish from Leech Lake for commercial purposes between July 2010 and July 2011. That indictment specifically states that Brown netted the fish and then sold them to Nei.

Reyes, Lyons, Tibbetts, and Hemme are accused of taking fish from several lakes on the Leech Lake Indian Reservation between July 2009 and July 2011. That indictment specifically claims that Ryes, Lyons and Tibbetts took the fish from the lakes and then sold them to Hemme, who owns a restaurant in Bena.

Good is accused of taking fish from Red Lake between July 2009 and July 2011 without approval of the Red Lake Fisheries Association.

The news release said authorities “began investigating these black-market activities in July 2009. During the course of that investigation, officers conducted numerous controlled purchases of illegally obtained fish. They also seized fish during the execution of several search warrants.”

In addition, “Authorities estimate the fair market value of the fish illegally obtained through the activity covered by these four indictments to be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

If convicted, each defendant faces a potential maximum penalty of five years in federal prison.

The cases are the result of investigations by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the Leech Lake Division of Resource Management, and the Red Lake Department of Natural Resources.

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