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Sturgeon czar charged with obstructing DNR, federal investigation

Posted at 5:15 p.m. on Thursday, February 11, 2021

The Brillion News

CHILTON - Ryan P. Koenigs, the Winnebago System Lake Sturgeon Biologist for the state Department of Natural Resources since 2012, was suspended from his job on Thursday, February 11, a day after he was charged with impeding a state and federal investigation into trafficking in sturgeon eggs.

The charge, a misdemeanor, was laid against Koenigs in Calumet County Circuit Court. It followed an investigation by the DNR and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service that began in 2017.

According to the criminal complaint, a DNR supervisor asked Koenigs if he knew DNR employees allowed a man identified as Ron Naparalla, Sr., to take sturgeon eggs and process them into caviar.

The complaint said Koenigs denied knowing or calling Naparalla, but then a federal investigator said he had phone records showing calls between Naparalla and Koenig's work and home phones in May of 2018.

Another person named in the complaint said that DNR workers received jars of caviar from a processor identified as Elizabeth "Betsy" Krizenesky.

Another person, named Arthur Techlow, allegedly told investigators that he made 65 pounds of caviar from sturgeon eggs in 2015 and obtained most of the eggs from Koenigs, picking them up "after hours."

The complaint accuses Koenigs of being untruthful in statements he made to investigators "regarding his involvement in the collection and providing of eggs to processors for his personal benefit and consumption."

The complaint said that DNR investigators spent hundreds of hours on the case "to complete a thorough investigation that could have been dramatically shortened had [Koenigs] told investigators the truth."

The criminal complaint was issued by Calumet County District Attorney Nathan F. Haberman.

Koenigs lives in the Village of Harrison, according to court records.

He is scheduled to make his initial appearance on March 29 in Calumet County Circuit Court, before Judge Jeffrey Froehlich, to answer the charge.

The penalty upon conviction could be up to nine months in jail and a fine of $10,000 - or both.


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