The latest legal tangle for a crabbing boat converted into a floating strip club off of Alaska's Kodiak Island: allegations that it's been dumping human waste. Darren Byler and Kimberly Riedel-Byler have been indicted by a federal grand jury on three counts. According to the Feb. 18 indictment, Byler and Riedel-Byler piped raw sewage from the vessel's bathrooms into the harbor instead of taking it three miles offshore. Byler, who pleaded not guilty at his arraignment Monday, was released on $25,000 bail. Riedel-Byler is expected to be arrested soon. Byler said yesterday that there was plenty of room to store sewage in the Wild Alaskan's 3,500-gallon holding tank and the ship passed previous sanitation and plumbing inspections. "We're not guilty," he said.
The 94-foot Wild Alaskan—which features a modest stage surrounded by folding chairs, a bar with a flat-screen TV, and a view of St. Herman Harbor—opened in June 2014 and encountered problems early:
- The Coast Guard briefly shut it down after someone reported a water taxi taking patrons to the vessel was overloaded. Before the taxi call, the Coast Guard found the boat had an expired personal location beacon, expired inflatable devices on two life rafts, and inoperable navigation sidelights.
- The Alaska Alcoholic Beverage Control Board revoked the business's liquor license in December over questions about Byler's common carrier license, which allows the sale of alcohol on vehicles involved in transporting passengers or freight.
Byler said he is fighting license revocation and plans to reopen in the spring. As for the dumping allegations, a member of the city harbor advisory board says, "There are probably other vessels that are doing it. They just haven't gotten caught."