Alaska Man Faces 21 Felony Charges for Phony Moose Guiding Service
The unlicensed guide allegedly cheated some 30 hunters out of a total $59,000
An Alaska man has been indicted for offering hunting guiding services without necessary licenses and helping two clients harvest bull moose illegally. Michael Mikhail Beans, 34, of Saint Mary’s faces two felony charges for Lacey Act violations and 19 felony counts of wire fraud stemming from $59,000 collected from unsuspecting moose hunters. A federal Grand Jury in Anchorage charged Beans on April 21.
More than 30 hunters have fallen victim to Beans’ ploy since October 2021. They paid him for guiding services on moose hunts scheduled for September 2022 and 2023. Beans then canceled the hunts without providing refunds to clients. Two clients actually went on bull moose hunts with Beans and were eventually successful. But Beans’ lack of a big game guide or transporter license rendered those hunts illegal.
An arraignment date has yet to be set, but Beans could face up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted.
Alaska’s Recent History of Unlicensed Hunting Guides
Such a punishment is similar to what Anchorage resident Stephen Hicks received in July 2022 after getting busted for selling unlicensed Dall sheep guiding services, guiding same-day airborne hunts, wanton waste, hunting without tags, and other wildlife crimes. Hicks was sentenced to six months in prison and three years of unsupervised release. He was also ordered to pay $13,460 in restitution for an illegally-sold Dall sheep hunt.
Idaho resident Paul Silvis was also found guilty of multiple Lacey Act violations for selling unlicensed guiding services on bear and moose hunts in Noatak National Preserve. In January 2020, Silvis was sentenced to six months of home confinement, five years of supervised release, and a $20,000 fine. Silvis also received a lifetime ban from hunting in Alaska. He had made an estimated $121,500 from his services, which he advertised under “Orion Outfitters.”
Read Next: Every Hunter Should Know What the Lacey Act Is and How It Works
“Unwavering wildlife law enforcement is critical to the health and well-being of the state’s wildlife populations, which are an irreplaceable part of Alaska’s natural heritage,” District of Alaska attorney S. Lane Tucker said of Hicks’ case. “Wildlife is also critical to Alaska Natives for subsistence hunting and fishing as well as sport hunting and tourism. In coordination with our federal and state partners, our office will pursue and prosecute to the fullest extent of the law those who violate wildlife laws.”