Elliott Neese on Deadliest Catch

Captain Elliott Neese piloted the F/V Saga in seasons 9-11 of the series that follows crab fisherman in the chilly waters of the Bering Sea. Prior to that, he was on the F/V Ramblin’ Rose in 2007-08. His dad, Mike Neese, also made appearances on the show, including a heroic rescue in Season 10.

Although largely controversial for his amped-up antics, some fans liked the drama Elliott brought to Deadliest Catch. In S10, he rescued the stranded crew of the Arctic Hunter. But Neese was seen more as a villain during his tenure on the reality series.

He was known for bickering and brawling and then just walked away from his boat. In Season 11 (airdates in 2015), Elliott abruptly tossed the reins to Jeff Folk. That was a red flag of more problems yet to surface. After leaving F/V Saga, Elliott Neese entered rehab, but more trouble lay ahead.

But, the skeletons kept falling out of his closet. The Deadliest Catch star’s baby mama, Valerie Gunderson, alleged violent behavior. TMZ confirmed the mother of his two children got a restraining order. Later, in rehab, Elliott met Erika Fridenbergs and they began dating in 2016. But his problems persisted.

Elliott Neese And Girlfriend Erika Fridenbergs

Reality Star Sells Drugs to Confidential Informant – Nabbed for Heroin Trafficking

In December 2019, Elliott Neese sold heroin to a CI (confidential informant). That led to a search warrant that uncovered 160 grams of heroin, some meth, drug scales, guns, a cash-counting machine, and items “used in the distribution of narcotics”.

The Deadliest Catch star immediately confessed to being part of a larger narcotics ring operating on the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska and said he mostly sold heroin. What followed is a strange case where his addiction still plays a role and what the court did is hard to understand.

Sealed documents further complicate matters. What was clear from the outset is that Elliott was a small cog in a larger drug-selling operation. Prosecutors asked for a stiffer sentence because he was selling heroin in a small community, at high risk for narcotics issues.

Neese Signs Plea Bargain but Back in Trouble with Drugs

The charge of possession with intent to distribute could have sent the Deadliest Catch crabber to prison for 5-40 years and paying up to a $5 million fine. After his arrest, Elliott Neese was released, and things went off the rails for him again.

Here’s the strange timeline for this case:

12/11/2019 – Neese sold drugs to a CI and the police carried out a warrant at his home seizing cash, drugs, weapons, and paraphernalia for dealing narcotics.

12/6/2021 – Elliott signed a plea deal. There was an addendum that was sealed. With convictions like these, they ALWAYS file a sealed addendum. Sometimes it is blank. But other times it reveals whether the accused is cooperating with law enforcement.

Deadliest Catch Elliott Neese Arrested Drugs

After this, Neese was released on pretrial monitoring until sentencing in the plea bargain matter. The court allowed him to keep working on boats so long as he didn’t leave Alaska waterways. But that wasn’t the real issue.

1/20/22 – 2/2022 – Several continuances filed by the Deadliest Catch star’s lawyer.

5/5/22 – Elliott popped positive for drugs in a probation screening. He claimed he’d been clean for the last 10 months. Later, he confessed he used heroin, methamphetamine, alcohol, and oxycodone in the days prior. They let him go with a warning.

5/12/22 – Pretrial monitoring personnel came to his parents’ home, where he was staying. There, he failed another drug test, popping for fentanyl, this time.

5/23/22 – He insisted he didn’t use but this day, a second lab test confirmed. The court ordered a substance abuse assessment.

6/2/22 – Prosecutors asked that Elliott be remanded back in custody as a flight risk because of his drugs and possible lengthy sentence.

Deadliest Catch Star Sentenced to Prison – How Long will Elliott Neese Serve?

At sentencing, prosecutors asked to imprison the Deadliest Catch celeb for 70 months (10 more months than the minimum guidelines) plus four years of probation. Neese’s lawyer asked for 60 months plus probation and offered to pay a fine on top of the cash they’d seized.

Elliott’s lawyer argued that he’s signed a plea bargain. And this was his first felony conviction. He asked for leniency stating his client’s not a violent offender and has a strong work history. The attorney also said at age 40, he’s at lower risk for recidivism.

Plus, his parents wrote letters to the court begging for leniency, citing their son’s battle with addiction, and said he’s turned his life around in the last year. Of course, those two positive drug tests diminish those claims…

Elliott Neese Federal Prison

In the end, the court sentenced the Deadliest Catch fisherman to just 30 months in prison. That’s half the term of what his lawyer requested. So, why did he get 30 months less than the recommended minimum and less than he requested? It’s strange.

There’s a sealed document titled “Statement of Reasons” that would explain the judge’s rationale, but it’s not available to the public. After sentencing, the court ordered US Marshals to take custody of Elliott Neese. Now, he’ll serve his two and a half years at Sheridan Federal Prison in Oregon.