ANACORTES — Four Anacortes men are facing criminal charges in an illegal crabbing case the state Department of Fish & Wildlife has been investigating for months.
In mid-April, Fish & Wildlife authorities seized property believed to be connected to the case from multiple homes in the city.
Charges were filed Friday in Skagit County Superior Court. The four men are each accused of felony offenses, and are expected to appear in court Sept. 11.
They are accused of organizing crab poaching in Similk Bay.
According to a Fish & Wildlife probable cause record, 38-year-old Ricky Lee Guttormson, 24-year-old Hank Berent Knutson, 19-year-old Logan Allan Eby and 45-year-old James Emmett Montour were involved in harvesting and selling Dungeness crab to undercover officers.
Guttormson is an Anacortes High School alumnus who played professional baseball for years in the United States, Japan and South Korea.
On multiple occasions in December 2014, the defendants made transactions with officers under the Twin Bridges on Highway 20 and at Guttormson’s home.
The accused men are not licensed commercial crab fishermen or wholesale dealers, according to Fish & Wildlife.
The men sold several garbage cans full of crab — some of which were undersized — to officers for a combined $1,910, according to court records.
Fish & Wildlife officers also witnessed the men launch a boat from Guttormson’s property under the cover of darkness, and set and retrieve crab pots.
In mid-April, Fish & Wildlife officers seized vehicles, a boat and several electronic items — including phones and GPS tools — from the men’s homes.
Fish & Wildlife Sgt. Russ Mullins said this is one of the two largest crab poaching cases he has seen in the Anacortes area. The other was a multiperson operation in 2008.
Both cases involved large quantities of Dungeness crab. Illegal harvesting of the crab has an impact on the availability for legal crabbing, Mullins said.
Guttormson faces four charges for commercial fishing violations, fishing without a license and trafficking hundreds of dollars worth of illegally harvested crab.
Montour faces charges of commercial fishing violations, fishing without a license and two counts of unlawful trafficking of crab.
Knutson faces two charges of unlawful trafficking and Eby faces charges of unlawful trafficking.