SF real estate developer sentenced for poaching trout 

A San Francisco real estate developer who was sentenced earlier this week for tax evasion has been given a second federal prison term in a separate case for poaching protected steelhead trout.

Luke Brugnara, 46, will serve the two sentences concurrently, according to U.S. Attorney’s Office spokesman Jack Gillund.

In the more recent sentencing, Brugnara was ordered by U.S. District Judge Maxine Chesney in San Francisco on Wednesday to serve one year and three months in prison for harming steelhead trout on property he owns in Gilroy.

That prison term will be served at the same time as a 2½-year sentence given to Brugnara by U.S. District Judge William Alsup on Monday in the tax evasion case.

In the tax case, Brugnara pleaded guilty to filing false income tax returns for the years 2000 through 2002 by failing to report capital gains from $45 million in sales of commercial properties in downtown San Francisco and Las Vegas.

Alsup also ordered him to pay the government $1.9 million in restitution and a $50,000 fine.

In the environmental case, Brugnara pleaded guilty in January to four counts of “taking,” a legal term for harming or killing, steelhead trout in 2007.

The trout are listed as a threatened species under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.

Prosecutors said Brugnara admitted to blocking an opening in his private dam on Little Arthur Creek on land in Gilroy, which prevented them from migrating upstream to spawn.

Brugnara also admitted to making two false statements to state fish and game wardens during an investigation.

U.S. Attorney Joseph Russoniello said the case was the first time an individual was accused of federal criminal charges of taking steelhead trout by blocking access to upstream habitat.

Brugnara had filed a motion to undo his guilty plea, but withdrew that motion before his sentencing Wednesday, Gillund said.

Brugnara is due to begin serving his two prison terms Aug. 30.

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