Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski said Thursday that she had no idea for three months that her fisheries adviser had signed a plea deal with federal prosecutors in which he'd admitted illegal fishing and agreed to nearly a year in federal prison. But Murkowski said she still kept him on the job for a month after he told her of his crime in June.
Murkowski had refused to answer any questions about staffer Arne Fuglvog this week, saying through a spokesman that it was an ongoing legal process. But she said she decided to address the issue on Thursday because "there has been such interest that has been generated about what has gone on and the timing."
Fuglvog signed a plea deal on April 8 in which he admitted to a charge of breaking federal commercial fisheries law by falsifying catch records. He agreed as part of the deal to a sentence of 10 months in prison and $150,000 in fines and penalties.
"I was not aware that Arne had signed that plea agreement on April 8th," Murkowski said Thursday. "I learned about that with the rest of the state on Monday when those documents were filed."
Murkowski said Fuglvog did tell her on June 29 he was going to enter in a plea agreement on Aug. 1.
"He told me the extent of the violations, what they entailed. ... He has accepted the consequences. Let me tell you, when he brought this to me on the 29th he did not attempt to say that this was wrongly brought," Murkowski said.
But Fuglvog also did not tell her he had actually signed the plea deal three months earlier, she said.
Murkowski said when Fuglvog revealed his plea deal to her in June she told him he would have to resign. But she still allowed him to remain on her staff for another month and did not accept his resignation until Sunday, the day before he was formally charged and his plea agreement went public.
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