Floating Strip Club Closed Over Pollution Charges
The saga of an unusual maritime enterprise drew to a close Friday with the sentencing of Darren Byler, 55, for charges of improperly disposing of sewage from his commercial vessel.
In 2014, Byler converted the crab boat Wild Alaskan into a floating strip club in Kodiak Harbor, Alaska, with a water taxi to provide transportation to and from shore. The club opened in July and closed five months later when its liquor license was revoked. Byler said that the business was very successful, and it hosted an estimated 1,000 customers over its brief time in operation; however, the volume of traffic posed a problem for sewage disposal.
Byler's wife Kimberly Reidel-Byler allegedly told the Coast Guard that the Wild Alaskan was equipped with a 5,000 gallon sewage tank, and that raw sewage from the vessel was properly transferred to a shoreside facility. However, the Wild Alaskan was equipped with only one 350-gallon tank, and investigators found that both of the vessels' heads had been plumbed to discharge over the side.
Darren Byler was charged with violating the Refuse Act, and was convicted in September. Prosecutors have asked for a sentence of 18 months in prison. Byler maintains that he was unfairly targeted due to the nature of his business, and says that he will appeal any sentence. "Simply put, I was selectively and maliciously prosecuted by an emotionally charged case because of what I was doing with my entertainment charter. That's just the bottom line," he told ABC News. "This is all about morality police."
The prosecutor assigned to Byler's case said that this was incorrect, and that before charges were filed, the Coast Guard had worked with Byler to try to convince him to comply.