A fishing guide who once was one of the most well known in this area, running salmon and steelhead trips in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Alaska, repping for numerous companies, appearing on radio shows and YouTube videos as well as the March 2009 cover of this magazine, was found guilty today of Social Security fraud, wire fraud and perjury.
Billy J. Swann now faces a maximum of up to 30 years in prison, which is highly unlikely; he will be sentenced June 22 in US District Court in Tacoma.
The verdict follows the 53-year-old Yelm-area resident’s sentencing last March for illegally clipping the adipose fins off two Endangered Species Act-listed Cowlitz River coho in October 2014.
In that case, US Attorney Seth Wilkinson was initially content to recommend fining Swann at the midpoint of the $5,000 to $10,000 range, but then discovered that he had also been applying and appealing for Social Security disability payments for a 2003 injury that supposedly left him all but house-ridden. Swann was ultimately fined $7,500 for the coho, but four months later he was charged with far more serious crimes.
According to the US Attorney’s Office for Western Washington, Swann made over $92,000 guiding in 2012, the same year he told a federal administrative judge he had been unable to work.
Swann was found guilty by US District Court Judge Robert J Bryan following a three-day bench trial.