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In brief: Three plead guilty in trout habitat case

BOISE – Federal prosecutors say three people from north-central Idaho have pleaded guilty to damaging steelhead trout habitat during an illegal channelization project in 2007.

Sixty-nine-year-old Paul McConnell and 49-year-old James Renshaw pleaded guilty in federal court last week to discharge of a pollutant and illegal taking of a threatened species. Donna McConnell pleaded guilty to discharge of a pollutant.

All three are from Kooskia, in Idaho County, and scheduled for sentencing Dec. 14.

Prosecutors say the McConnells asked Renshaw to channelize a stretch of Clear Creek to prevent flooding during spring runoff. Their property is about a mile and a half upstream of the Kooskia National Fish Hatchery and along habitat for threatened steelhead.

The project caused significant damage to steelhead habitat and sent significant deposits of silt downstream. The work was also done without a permit.

Pair convicted of selling eagle parts

YAKIMA – A Yakima County couple has been convicted in federal court for conspiring to illegally sell bald eagle and golden eagle parts.

Jurors in U.S. District Court in Yakima convicted 38-year-old Ricky Wahchumwah late Thursday on three counts of selling or offering to sell eagle parts and one count of selling wildlife in violation of the Lacey Act.

His wife, 39-year-old Victoria Jim, was convicted of conspiracy, two counts of selling or offering to sell eagle parts and one count of acquiring wildlife in violation of the Lacey Act.

The couple are members of the Yakama Nation. Their attorneys argued they were following traditional Native American ways in collecting the feathers and other parts.

Fish processor sold coho salmon as chinook

BELLINGHAM – A Bellingham fish processor has pleaded guilty to a federal charge that he sold cheaper coho salmon labeled as chinook salmon.

In a plea agreement filed in federal court in Seattle this month, Douglas Jay admits that he told employees to use cheaper coho salmon to fill customer orders for chinook. Jay owns Swiftsure Foods, which operates a seafood processing facility in Bellingham.

Labeling the fish as chinook salmon enabled Jay’s company to fetch an extra $2 to $2.50 a pound.