Legally Weird - The FindLaw Legal Curiosities Blog

Exotic Dancer Business on a Boat Floats Past the Law in Alaska

Darren Byler, of Kodiak, Alaska, is the owner of a retired crabbing boat, named Wild Alaska, which he uses to run a strip club. He recently found himself facing some serious criminal charges related to his establishment's facilities for employee and customer bathroom waste.

However, it seems that much of the drama has subsided for Byler. As such, this past week, he finally reopened to customers. There is no word as to whether his waste facilities have been updated. And his exotic dancer business survives. According Byler, this operation was not charging admission, nor serving alcohol.

Stripping Controversy and Waste Management

Soon after opening in 2014, Byler found himself in hot water after authorities charged him with not properly disposing of human waste. Byler's vessel, rather than collecting waste created in the bathrooms by employees and customers, just allowed it to flow into the harbor. Byler was found guilty in 2015, but continued fighting his case until he was sentenced in January 2017. Nearly two years after the conviction, Byler was finally sentenced to just five years of probation and a $10,000 fine, despite the convictions allowing actual jail sentences to be imposed.

A Scheme of Moral Disapproval?

Byler and his wife protested the conviction and sentence, claiming that it was all part of scheme to get rid of the exotic dancers due to moral disapproval. Byler's attorney pleaded with the judge during sentencing that sending him to prison would cause his wife hardship due to the frontier-style life they led in Alaska.

Despite the Byler's claim that the prosecution was an attempt to get rid of the "stripper boat," prior to this prosecution, the Coast Guard shut down the business due to numerous safety concerns with the vessel itself. For example, during the investigation into the waste disposal allegations, it was discovered that the vessel did not have the proper systems to store waste for later disposal.

However, Byler's wife was found not guilty with respect to illegal sewage dumping and lying to authorities. Byler also continues to dispute these claims and is currently appealing the federal case.

Editor's note, June 26, 2017: This article has been updated to reflect that Byler's wife was found not guilty.

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