Federal prosecutors claim that the U.S. Coast Guard used up approximately $311,000 in expenses searching for an Alaska man who faked his own death.
A formal statement released Thursday charges Ryan Meganack, a commercial fisherman and boat captain from Port Graham, with conspiracy and “false distress” for planting evidence that he had been lost at sea while he hid out at a camp in the woods.
Ivy Rose Rodriguez, 25, Meganack’s girlfriend, faces the same charges. Meganack and Rodriguez hatched a plan to stage a boating accident, according to federal prosecutors.
Last year, Meganack faced sexual assault charges and on Dec. 5, 2016 was scheduled to enter a guilty plea, which would have meant a prison sentence.
Prosecutors said that Meganack built a makeshift camp where he could hide. Around Nov. 29, he piloted his fishing boat to an island near Port Graham, abandoned a small fishing skiff, returned the larger boat to a lagoon off Port Graham and walked to his campsite.
Within a day, Rodriguez sent Facebook messages to her boyfriend’s family reporting that Meganack had left after midnight in the skiff. She said Meganack had been drinking, that he had more alcohol with him, and that the outboard motor on the skiff “wasn’t running right.”
And so family members called the Coast Guard, helicopters from Kodiak launched despite falling snow, high wind and low visibility and found the skiff.
Rescue/search efforts include the ice-cutter ‘Naushon’ and an Alaska State Trooper patrol vessel searched by the sea. Port Graham residents also walked shorelines.
After days and dollars of rescue/search/hunt mission, troopers found Meganack at his campsite on December 2 and arrested him for violating conditions of his release.
He was sentenced in January in the sexual assault case. He is now imprisoned at Goose Creek Correctional Facility in Wasilla.
Port Graham is off the road system near the tip of the Kenai Peninsula about 140 miles southwest of Anchorage. Meganack was a halibut fishermen and for 14 years, the ‘skipper’ of the fishing boat Aires.