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Suspected Garcia River poacher expected to plead guilty

A Mendocino man arrested last year on suspicion of poaching steelhead trout in the Garcia River is expected to plead guilty at a hearing in Fort Bragg on Tuesday to possessing the threatened fish, prosecutors said.

Kyle Edward Stornetta, 32, has agreed to plead guilty for possessing 18 of the fish. He faces 45 days in prison but may be eligible for a work-alternative program through the Sheriff's Office, Mendocino County Deputy District Attorney Tim Stoen said this week. He also faces up to three years of probation with a ban on fishing.

Stornetta also agreed to plead guilty to a marijuana possession charge, he said, and could face more than $40,000 in restitution payments to the county under the new policy on marijuana prosecutions, instituted by District Attorney David Eyster.

Defense attorney Keith Faulder did not return a call for comment.

State and local agents investigating a possible marijuana- growing operation in the Point Arena area discovered the fish in a freezer on March 7, 2012. It is illegal to remove the threatened fish from the river or even possess them afterward.

Game officials say illegal fishing has damaged populations of trout and Coho salmon in the river, undermining expensive restoration efforts.


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