PORT GRAHAM, Alaska — An Alaska fisherman has been charged with trying to fake his own death at sea to avoid a jail sentence for a sex assault, triggering a massive rescue operation by the U.S. Coast Guard.
Federal prosecutors say Ryan Riley “Unga” Meganack, 34, and his girlfriend Ivy Rose Rodriguez, 25, hatched an elaborate plot to make it look like he had disappeared at sea while he was just hiding out in the woods to escape going to jail.
Meganack had agreed to plead guilty to charges of sexual assault on Dec. 5, 2016 in a deal that involved jail time.
Less than a week before he was supposed to turn himself in, authorities say Meganack piloted his fishing vessel out to an island near Port Graham and abandoned a skiff there in a way that made it look like he had been washed away at sea.
But Meganack took his ship back to Port Graham where he picked up Rodriguez and then secured the vessel in a nearby tidal lagoon and then went to a makeshift campsite in the woods.
Rodriguez headed back to Port Graham where she told Meganack’s family the following day that he had gone out aboard the skiff and was drunk and that the craft had been suffering from motor trouble.
His family then reported him missing triggering a three day search for him in which the Coast Guard combed the sea after finding his skiff washed up on the island near Port Graham. In total, officials say $311,000 was spent on the search.
Authorities eventually caught wind of where Meganack was hiding after a tipster came forward, and arrested him.
Both Meganack and Rodriguez have been charged with conspiracy and false distress.