By Will Houston
Harbor commissioner barred from recreational fishing, hunting for 3 years
Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District Commissioner Aaron Lance Newman pleaded guilty on Wednesday to three misdemeanor poaching and perjury charges and was sentenced to three years probation, during which time he will be banned from recreational hunting and fishing anywhere in the United States.
Newman's plea was part of an offer from the Humboldt County District Attorney's Office in which he would plead guilty to two violations of state Fish and Wildlife code for obtaining more than one set of hunting tags within one year and lying to a state agency under oath, as well as a code of regulations violation for misuse of abalone tags. In exchange, the district attorney's office dropped Newman's two felony perjury charges, a misdemeanor fish and game code violation for unlawfully obtaining a hunting tag, and a misdemeanor code of regulation abalone de-shelling violation.
Newman was originally going to be charged with another fish and game code misdemeanor violation for unlawful use of a tag or license, but the charge was dropped after the preliminary hearing in May.
"That misdemeanor charge was not included because it was determined that there was inadequate evidence to prove the violation beyond a reasonable doubt, the standard required to support a conviction," Deputy District Attorney Adrian Kamada said in an email to the Times-Standard.
During Newman's probation, he will be not be allowed to recreationally fish or hunt within the U.S. he was also fined nearly $3,000 and must serve 250 community service hours. He will not serve any jail time.
Standing in the courtroom wearing a green plaid shirt, Newman stated "guilty" to the three misdemeanor charges as Humboldt County Superior Court Judge Marilyn Miles read them off. When asked if he understood the rights he would be giving up with the plea, Newman answered, "Yes, your honor."
Newman's defense attorney Manny Daskal said he did not think that Miles had the authority to bar Newman from hunting or fishing in other states. Miles did not agree, further clarifying to Newman that he can't travel to Oregon to get abalone.
Newman was accused of perjury under declaration after he allegedly lied to the California Fish and Wildlife Department on June 4, 2009, when he stated in an affidavit that he lost his original 2009 abalone record card, which allows for a limited take of the shellfish. Newman allegedly said that he had only used three tags total and was eventually given a new one.
Newman's second perjury charge was added after he reportedly told state officials that he lost his 2012 B-Zone deer tag before he could use it. His request for a duplicate tag was granted. After serving a search warrant at Newman's home on June 8, 2013, Fish and Wildlife investigators uncovered the original abalone card with 21 tags used and the replacement card with three tags used, as well as the original 2012 deer tag showing Newman had shot a four-point buck on Sept. 2, 2012, according to court documents.