Two Somerset County watermen were charged by Maryland Natural Resources police officers with harvesting oysters from protected state waters.
Officers conducting surveillance assisted by the radar system known as the Maritime Law Enforcement Information Network saw two watermen dredging for oysters about 500 feet inside the Manokin River Sanctuary. State regulations prohibit taking oysters from sanctuaries.Lance Carl Fridley, 29, and Shawn Matthew Fridley, 34, both of Chance, had three bushels of unsorted oysters on board when officers stopped them on March 20, 2015. Fridley has cases pending for other recent violations.Both men were charged with two counts each of illegally harvesting oysters inside a sanctuary. Lance Fridley, the boat operator, also was charged with three counts of having three bushels containing undersized oysters.
NRP officers seized the dredge and returned the oysters to the sanctuary.
Both men are scheduled to appear in Somerset District Court on May 12. If found guilty of all charges, Lance Fridley could be fined as much as $9,000 and have his license suspended for up to one year. Shawn Fridley could be fined $6,000 and have his license suspended for up to one year.
Outlaw Watermen Busted by DNR Cops; Pirates Allegedly Caught Red-handed Poaching Sanctuaries & Cheating on Rules
(Editor’s Note: A few outlaw Maryland watermen, who are in the distinct minority of those who work the water to make a living – have extensive criminal records and are seldom on thin ice when it comes to being prosecuted. This review of the records of four recently charged with violations of DNR rules and Maryland law are as follows: Explanations of some of the cases involving one waterman have been provided by Somerset County States Attorney Daniel Powell.)
Saturation patrols, surveillance and tips from the public led to oyster poaching charges being filed by Maryland Natural Resources Police officers against four Eastern Shore watermen over the holiday period.
DEAL ISLAND, MD. — Natural Resources Police report that on Monday Dec. 29, 2014, DNR officers set up surveillance near Deal Island in Somerset County to check for oyster harvesting before legal hours. At about 5:30 a.m., they saw a boat operating without navigational lights head into Tangier Sound.
DNR Police say that the officers tailed the vessel and watched its activity with night-vision glasses. Two officers boarded the vessel and directed the operator, Lance Carl Fridley, 29, of 10915 Tangier Acre Drive, Deal Island, to return to shore. Once back at Deal Island, the officers found seven bushels aboard, all ranging from 55 percent to 69 percent unsorted.
Fridley was charged with seven counts of possessing unculled oysters, oystering before legal hours, having oysters aboard between two hours after sunset and sunrise, power dredging in a prohibited area, operating a vessel without navigational lights, and negligent operation of a vessel.
All seven bushels were returned to state waters.
- Fridley was charged with a bevy of traffic charges after a crash on Sept. 1, 2014 at Rollan Parks Road and Deal Island Road in which he was also cited for DWI by Somerset County Sheriff’s Deputy A. Stanley. His trial on those charges is set for Feb. 17, 2015.
- On July 12, 2014, Fridley was charged with theft and States Attorney Dan Powell dropped the charges.
- On Oct. 24, 2014, Fridley was charged with possession of 145 unculled oysters by DNR Officer Brimer and is due in court on Jan. 13, 2015 for that case.
- On Jan. 15, 2011, charges of second degree assault against Fridley were dumped by the Somerset County States Attorney Dan Powell. Fridley was represented by a Public Defender courtesy of the taxpayers.
- On Sept. 12, 2011, Fridley was charged with assault in Somerset County District Court. In a plea deal with the Somerset County States Attorney, Fridley entered a guilty plea and paid no fine, did no time.
- On July 23, 2009, Fridley was charged in Somerset County Circuit Court with drug distribution charges. The prosecutors often allow dumping charges when the culprit rats on his competitors in the drug trade. On Aug. 11, 2009 Kristy Hickman, the States Attorney for Somerset County, put all the charges on the Stet Docket. Fridley paid no fine, did no time and the Judge waived the court costs.
- On April 26, 2009, Fridley was charged with assault and Somerset County States Attorney Hickman put the case on the Stet Docket, with no fine, no time.
- On Jan. 14, 2005, Fridley was charged with theft and on Sept. 27, 2005, Kristy Hickman, States Attorney for Somerset County, put the charges on the Stet Docket with no fine, and no time. The taxpayers funded his legal representation from Public Defenders John Rue and Bruce C. Anderson.
Somerset States Attorney Dan Powell contacted THE CHESAPEAKE TODAY and provided this information: “The two cases where Mr. Fridley was incarcerated for theft and violation of probation (five months jail time) I was the State’s Attorney who prosecuted him. I am well aware of Mr. Fridley and I am personally handing his case with Deputies Shores and Stanley in District Court on February 17, 2015.Case No. 5G18079 Mr. Fridley received 90 days in jail ; Case No. 3G17559 Mr. Fridley received 90 days in jail. As to the theft case and assault cases that were NP while I have been State’s Attorney the victim’s in both cases who were the state’s sole witnesses did not want to testify and asked my office to drop the cases. The other Assault case while I was State’s Attorney was tried and the Court found Mr. Fridley not guilty. As to the cases when I worked in the office as an Assistant State’s Attorney our office only keeps files for District Court cases for a year and then they are purged. Without looking at the file I couldn’t tell you if I did or didn’t handle the case and why the case(s) were stetted or NP.”
Powell also noted that in the case involving Fridley in 2005, that he, Powell, was not the States Attorney. Powell was working in the States Attorney office as an Assistant States Attorney at the time of this plea deal but the decision and responsibility falls on Hickman. Powell was elected States Attorney in November of 2010 and reelected in 2014.
Republican Logan C. Widdowson was Somerset States Attorney at the time of the charges being placed against Fridley in January of 2005 and before the charges came to court, Widdowson retired and was replaced by Kristy M. Hickman, a Democrat, who was States Attorney at the time that the sweet deal was given to Fridley in September.
Also on Monday, NRP officers charged two watermen with harvesting oysters from a state sanctuary at the mouth of Harris Creek in Talbot County.
Kyle William Porter V, 20, of 6025 Jamar Rd., Rock Hall, Md., and George William Fluharty, 53, of 5918 Tilghman Island Road, Tilghman, Md., were observed oystering within 150 feet of the sanctuary boundary.
Both men are scheduled to appear in Talbot District Court on Feb. 19. If found guilty, each man could be fined as much as $3,000.
- On Nov. 28, 2014, Porter was cited by NRP Officer R. Karge with possession of undersized and unculled oysters.
- On Feb. 25, 2014, Porter was charged with multiple counts of possession of marijuana by Kent County Sheriff’s Cpl. Harry A. Kettner. On May 5, 2014, Kent County States Attorney Robert H. Strong Jr. dropped all the charges, no fine, no time. Strong, a Democrat, has been Kent County States Attorney since 1999. Porter got a free ride on the taxpayers for his lawyer as he was represented in the case by Holland C. Brownley, Public Defender.
Maryland court records do not reflect any prior NRP citation history for Fluharty.
On Oct. 22, 2009, Fluharty pleaded guilty to a charge of second-degree assault in a plea deal with the Talbot States Attorney Scott Patterson in Talbot County Circuit Court and was sentenced to ninety days in jail. Work release was permitted and none of the jail time was suspended. There was no fine with the time. Fluharty was represented by Easton attorney Robert B. Aguilar Jr. A warrant was issued to the Sheriff of Talbot County to find Fluharty for violation of the terms of his probation on June 21, 2010.
On Dec. 24, NRP officers charged Todd Hamilton Ruark, 33, of 503 Edlon Park, Cambridge, Md., with failing to tag oysters before leaving a harvest area and exceeding his daily harvest limit. An officer noticed untagged oysters aboard a vessel tied up in Madison. When the officer went to Ruark’s home, he noticed additional bushels of untagged oysters in the back of a truck and in the yard.
- Ruark is scheduled to appear in Dorchester District Court on Feb. 18. If found guilty of two counts of failing to tag and one count of overharvesting, he faces a maximum fine of $3,000.
- Ruark was charged by Officer Charles B. Dayton with counts of burglary, credit card theft, attempted theft, identity fraud and rogue and vagabond on July 9, 2014. In Dorchester County District Court on Oct. 16, 2014, Dorchester County States Attorney William Jones dropped all the charges. No fine, no time. (Note, when a prosecutor drops charges, the State has up to one year to bring new charges or Grand Jury indictments in the matter.)
- Ruark was charged with assault and resisting arrest by Officer Eric. D. Miller on May 3, 2003 in Dorchester County District Court. In a plea deal with Dorchester County States Attorney on June 4, 2003, Ruark pleaded guilty to resisting arrest and the assault charge was dropped. Ruark was sent to jail for six months with none of the time suspended.
- Ruark was cited by NRP Officer A. Wilson on Aug. 22, 2014 for a violation of crabbing regulations and failed to appear in court.
- Todd Ruark was cited by Cambridge City Police Officer Joseph Beans Aug. 27, 2013 for driving on a suspended license and the charge was dropped by Dorchester County States Attorney William Jones on Jan. 21, 2014.
- Ruark was cited by Cambridge City Police Officer Robert Ball on Sept. 3, 2013 with driving on a suspended license and on Dec. 26, 2013, the charge was dropped in Dorchester County District Court by States Attorney William Jones.
- Todd Hamilton Ruark was charged Officer Christy Wheatley with dealing drugs on Nov. 26, 2007 in Dorchester County District Court. On Nov. 24, 2007 in a plea deal with States Attorney William H. Jones, Ruark pleaded guilty to violating his probation and possession of drugs with the more serious distribution charges dropped. The jail time in the sweet deal for Ruark amounted to a sentence of one year in jail with eleven months suspended and credit given for two days already served. No fine. The taxpayers funded his legal bills by providing Public Defender representation.
- Ruark was charged on Sept. 26, 2009 by Patrolman David Satterfield of the Narcotics Enforcement Team of the Cambridge Police Department with two counts of possession of drugs and paraphernalia in Dorchester County District Court and on Jan. 20, 2010, both charges were dropped by States Attorney William H. Jones with no fine and no time.
The current States Attorney for Dorchester County, Md., is William H. Jones, who has served since June 19, 2009.
He was an assistant States Attorney and Senior Assistant prior to being appointed to the office. Jones was Interim States Attorney from April 2007 until 2009 and was elected to the post in 2010 and 2014.
In charges brought against Ruark by Salisbury Police Officer Stephen L. Schweikert for incidents from Dec. 3, 2002, a plea deal in Wicomico Circuit Court was reached on April 2, 2004. Ruark pleaded guilty to theft and was sentenced to fifteen months in jail with one year of the time immediately suspended. On the same date, to a charge of assault, he pleaded guilty was sentenced to one year in jail with all of the time suspended. Charges of assault and reckless endangerment were dropped by Wicomico County States Attorney Davis Ruark. (Davis Ruark was States Attorney from February of 1987 to Jan. 3, 2011. MATTHEW A. MACIARELLO, State’s Attorney, Republican, took over the office on that date). Todd Ruark was ordered to pay restitution to Boscov’s of $1,101.76, according to court records. By the end of the wheeling and dealing in Court, Ruark ended up with but three months in jail and the rest of the time suspended. Court records show that there was a “payment violation” filed on Dec. 1, 2005 with no further information available other than a summons was issued.
TELL THE PROSECUTORS WHAT YOU THINK
ABOUT PIRATE POACHERS OF THE CHESAPEAKE
The following is contact information with email addresses for States Attorneys of the counties that surround the Chesapeake Bay and are often presented with citations and violations to prosecute for Maryland’s outlaw watermen. They are all elected officials and have complete and total control as to whether or not to prosecute Pirate Poachers of the Chesapeake or to dump the charges. Be sure to contact any of these officials with your views on the matter.
SCOTT D. SHELLENBERGER, Baltimore County State’s Attorney (Democrat)
State’s Attorney, Baltimore County, since January 2, 2007.
Prosecutor, Office of State’s Attorney, Baltimore County, 1982-93 (former chief, child abuse/sexual assault division).
EDWARD DORSEY ELLIS ROLLINS III, Cecil State’s Attorney (Republican)
State’s Attorney, Cecil County, since January 3, 2011.
MATTHEW A. MACIARELLO, Wicomico County State’s Attorney (Republican),
State’s Attorney, Wicomico County, since January 3, 2011. Deputy State’s Attorney, Wicomico County, November 8, 2010, to January 3, 2011.
Scott Patterson, Talbot County States Attorney (Democrat): State’s Attorney, Talbot County, 1983-86, and since 1989. Assistant State’s Attorney, Montgomery County, 1972-75. Special Assistant to Attorney General, 1975. Assistant State’s Attorney, Anne Arundel County.
LANCE G. RICHARDSON, Queen Anne’s County State’s Attorney (Republican)
State’s Attorney, Queen Anne’s County, since January 5, 2009. Assistant Public Defender, Queen Anne’s County, 1996-2003. Deputy State’s Attorney, Queen Anne’s County
HARRIS P. MURPHY, Kent County State’s Attorney (Republican)
e-mail: email@example.com, State’s Attorney, Kent County, since January 5, 2015.
Daniel Powell, Somerset County States Attorney (Republican)
State’s Attorney, Somerset County, since January 3, 2011. Former Assistant State’s Attorney, Baltimore County. Former Assistant State’s Attorney, Dorchester County. Former Assistant State’s Attorney, Somerset County. County Administrator, Somerset County, 2007-09.
JONATHAN G. NEWELL, Caroline County State’s Attorney (Republican)
State’s Attorney, Caroline County, since 2003.
Assistant Public Defender, Caroline County, 1999-2001. Deputy State’s Attorney, Kent County
BEAU H. OGLESBY, Worcester County State’s Attorney (Republican)
State’s Attorney, Worcester County, since January 3, 2011.
Assistant State’s Attorney, Wicomico County, 1997-2007. Deputy State’s Attorney, Caroline County, 2009-10.
WILLIAM H. JONES Dorchester County States Attorney, (Democrat)
State’s Attorney, Dorchester County, since June 19, 2009. Assistant State’s Attorney, 2002-04. Senior Assistant State’s Attorney, 2004-07. Interim State’s Attorney, April 11, 2007 to June 19, 2009.
WES ADAMS, Anne Arundel County State’s Attorney (Republican)
State’s Attorney, Anne Arundel County, since January 5, 2015. Assistant State’s Attorney, Prince George’s County, 1998-2000. Assistant State’s Attorney, Baltimore City, 2000-08. Chief, Homicide Division, State’s Attorney’s Office, Prince George’s County, 2008-15 (assistant chief, 2008). Special Assistant U.S. Attorney, 2006-07.
ANTHONY B. (TONY) COVINGTON, State’s Attorney (Democrat)
State’s Attorney, Charles County, since January 3, 2011. Deputy State’s Attorney, Charles County, 2008-. Assistant State’s Attorney, Prince George’s County, 1991-93. Assistant State’s Attorney, Charles County, 1993-97.
LAURA L. MARTIN, Calvert County State’s Attorney (Republican)
State’s Attorney, Calvert County, since January 2007. Assistant State’s Attorney, Prince George’s County, 1989-98 (assistant chief, homicide division, 1994-98). Deputy State’s Attorney, Calvert County, September 1998 to December 2005.
RICHARD D. FRITZ, St. Mary’s County State’s Attorney (Republican)
State’s Attorney, St. Mary’s County, since December 1998. Former Assistant State’s Attorney and Deputy State’s Attorney, St. Mary’s County.
JOSEPH I. CASSILLY, Harford County State’s Attorney (Republican)
State’s Attorney, Harford County, since January 1983. Assistant State’s Attorney, Harford County, 1977-82