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Judge convicts Cloquet man in netting case: Sentenced to probation and fines

The 50-year-old Cloquet man charged with illegally setting a gill net in Gull Lake was sentenced to probation and ordered to pay a fine. Ninth Judicial District Judge Jana M. Austad, based in Cass County, made her decision Oct. 12 on the case reg...

After setting their gill net, Anishinaabe Todd Thompson and Jim Northrup paddle for the shore of Gull Lake in Nisswa with the Minnesota Department of Natural resources officers in the background. Thompson and Northrup were later cited for fishing with a gill net. Steve Kohls / Forum News Service
In August of 2015 area DNR officer Tim Collette issues a citation to Anishinabe Jim Northrup III while his boat partner Todd Thompson videotapes the event at the Hole-in-the-Day access to Gull Lake Friday morning. The two men were cited for illegally taking fish with a gill net. Dispatch file photo

The 50-year-old Cloquet man charged with illegally setting a gill net in Gull Lake was sentenced to probation and ordered to pay a fine.

Ninth Judicial District Judge Jana M. Austad, based in Cass County, made her decision Oct. 12 on the case regarding James Warren Northrup. The Cloquet man faced charges following an August 2015 incident on Hole-in-the-Day Bay on Gull Lake. Northrup and Todd Jeremy Thompson deployed a gill net from a canoe while a crowd of people stood on shore, without a state license. It is illegal under Minnesota law to fish with a net unless specifically authorized. Charges against Thompson have since been dismissed, and Northrup was sentenced this month.

Austad took the matter under advisement after a court trial on Sept. 5 in Crow Wing County District Court in Brainerd. Austad had to decide whether Northrup had a right to net without a state license or if he is protected under the 1855 treaty under the Fond du Lac Reservation Lake Superior Band of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe.

Austad found Northrup guilty of taking fish with a net, a gross misdemeanor; failing to affix a valid registration sticker on the canoe and not having a personal floatation device, both petty misdemeanors. Northrup was sentenced to two years of unsupervised probation for taking fish with a net. If he violates the conditions of his probation he could face a year in Crow Wing County Jail. Northrup also must pay a total of $235 fine on the three counts he was convicted on.

The judge ruled no adjudication on the lesser offense-misdemeanor of netting fish without a license.

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Crow Wing County Attorney Don Ryan said Austad made the right decision.

Northrup was represented by John Plumer, an attorney in Bemidji, and Frank Bibeau, an attorney in Deer River. Plumer could not be reached for comment.

Case

Both sides of the case did not dispute the facts of what happened on Aug. 28, 2015, when Minnesota DNR conservation officers observed Northrup and Thompson in a canoe on Gull Lake. Officers watched Thompson open a blue tote and start putting a gill net into Gull Lake as Northrup paddled the canoe. After placing the net into Gull Lake, the two paddled back to shore. Conservation officers pulled their patrol boat up next to the canoe, identified themselves as state conservation officers and directed the canoe to stop.

Thompson and Northrup refused to stop, paddled to shore, exited their canoe and disappeared into the crowd on shore. Their canoe was quickly loaded onto a truck by other individuals. The canoe did not display proper registration and there were no personal floatation devices in the canoe, the complaint stated.

Conservation officers later made contact with the men, who stated the net belonged to them and they admitted to setting the gill net. They did not have a license or permit from Minnesota and they claimed they had federal treaty rights to place the net in Gull Lake.

Related Topics: GULL LAKE
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