A 53-year-old Lino Lakes man is facing several bribery charges as well as a gross overlimit charge after an incident on Lake of the Woods last winter.
According to the Statement of Probable Cause, on December 21, 2019, Minnesota DNR Conservation Officers Eric Benjamin, Benjamin Huener and Jeremy Woinarowicz were on routine patrol when they made contact with Guy Ray Houle, 53, and his son, Jacob Otto Houle, 18, who were ice fishing on Lake of the Woods near Zippel Bay. At the time, the men were in possession of 15 fish, with Jacob telling the officers that he had looked up the limits online and believed they each could keep eight fish. (The limit is six.)
Officer Woinarowicz asked the men how many fish they had caught the previous day and the Houles replied they had caught 13 or 14 but had eaten them all. Woinarowicz seized the three fish over the limit and informed the men they would each receive a citation for possessing walleye over the legal limit.
After the officers responded to an unrelated matter, they observed the Houles returning to a black Dodge Ram pickup that was registered to Guy Houle. Officer Huener asked the men if they had additional fish in the pickup, to which they replied in the affirmative. Guy Houle offered Officer Huener $100 to ignore the over limit of fish.
Later, Huener activated his digital recorder and asked G. Houle for clarification on the offer of money. Houle said he had three one hundred dollar bills, one for each officer, and took the bills out of his wallet.
When Huener told G. Houle the officers would not be taking the money nor overlooking the citations, Houle said he wanted to give the officers a “little Christmas bonus” to let them go.
A subsequent search of the pickup recovered a total of 53 walleyes/saugers in the Houles’ possession.
Guy Houle was charged with three counts of Bribery, all felonies, each of which carry a maximum penalty of ten years in prison and/or a fine of not more than $20,000. In addition, he was charged with Gross Overlimit, a gross misdemeanor that carries a maximum penalty of one year in prison and/or up to a $3,000 fine.
Houle made his first court appearance via remote technology on August 5. A contested omnibus hearing is scheduled for September 16.