Unlicensed fishing guide catches misdemeanor

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SANDPOINT — A plea offer is pending in the case of a Washington state man charged with guiding fishing trips on Priest Lake without a license.

Charles Lonnie Osterholm was charged with the misdemeanor offense after an undercover operation conducted by Idaho Outfitters & Guides Licensing Board in the fall of last year.

The board received a complaint that Osterholm was guiding without a license. The state’s guide license database turned up no license for Osterholm even though he was advertising his guide services online.

Investigators from the licensing board and the Idaho Department of Fish & Game posed as anglers and booked a trip for $450 on Nov. 2, 2010.

During the outing Osterholm allegedly said he purchased the guiding business from Larry Larson, but he couldn’t transfer the license into his name because Larson had vanished without a trace in Alaska, according to the licensing board investigator’s report.

After catching their limit of lake trout, the group returned to Priest Lake Marina, where a Fish & Game conservation officer cited Osterholm for guiding without a license.

Osterholm, 49, of Deer Park, reiterated his claim that he purchased the business from Larson before he went missing, but licensing board records indicated Larson sold the business to Robert Tyce. The Fish & Game investigation revealed that Tyce had subsequently sold the business to Rich Lindsey, who told the officer that Larson was alive and well in Alaska and that he held the license that once belonged to Larson.

Bonner County Deputy Prosecutor Roger Hanlon filed a resolution proposal which would require Osterholm to plead guilty as charged. In exchange, the state would grant immunity for other Priest Lake fishing trips Osterholm allegedly guided in 2010, according to court documents.

Sentencing recommendations included 90 days in jail with 80 days suspended and a $5,000 fine with $4,000 suspended.

Osterholm called the recommendations “absurd” during a hearing in magistrate court on Friday. The resolution proposal is on the table until a pretrial hearing, the date of which is pending.

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