Pirate Poachers of the Chesapeake: Waterman Billy Smith of Smith Island hardly misses a year without being caught poaching

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Pirate Poachers of the Chesapeake

Waterman Billy Smith of Smith Island hardly misses a year without being caught poaching

A CSX train being loaded with oyster shells for shipment to Maryland for use in rebuilding oyster beds depleted by years of oystering. When pirate poachers steal from sanctuaries, they are stealing their own future as well as tax dollars.

A CSX train being loaded with oyster shells for shipment to Maryland for use in rebuilding oyster beds depleted by years of oystering. When pirate poachers steal from sanctuaries, they are stealing their own future as well as tax dollars.

SMITH ISLAND, MD. — The Pirate Poachers of the Chesapeake are a generational lot of outlaw watermen and while their activities of lawlessness are often combined with shore-side activities of burglary, drug dealing and assaults; they still are a distinct but robust minority of Chesapeake Bay watermen.

The pirates are out year-round, harvesting undersize fish and crabs and sneaking into oyster sanctuaries. Numerous profiles of these pirates have been provided in THE CHESAPEAKE TODAY and today here is yet another.

The Maryland Natural Resources Police report that a Smith Island waterman was charged Friday with poaching oysters from protected state waters.

Billy Gene Smith, 63, of 20825 Caleb Jones Road, Ewell, Md., received a citation for taking four bushels of oysters out of the Somerset sanctuary in Tangier Sound. He is scheduled to appear in Somerset District Court on April 12. If found guilty, Smith could be fined as much as $3,000.

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Officers on patrol were alerted to the encroachment by the Maritime Law Enforcement Information Network (MLEIN), a system of radar units and cameras that monitor the Chesapeake Bay.

Smith maneuvered his vessel, “Capt. Matt,” in and out of the sanctuary as he harvested oysters. The sanctuary boundaries are marked with white buoys, which were all found to be in their proper location.

Officers intercepted the vessel, found four bushels of oysters aboard and returned them to the sanctuary.

  • On Jan. 6, 2016, Smith was charged by NRP Officer Duvall with power dredging in a non-designated area. He is scheduled to appear in Somerset District Court on March 8., 2016.
  • State Police assist NRP oyster police in cracking down on oyster sanctuary pirate poachers.

    State Police assist NRP oyster police in cracking down on oyster sanctuary pirate poachers.

    In 2008, Smith was found guilty and fined $100 for taking oysters from a sanctuary and was found guilty of having crab pots in a restricted area.

  • On March 3, 2008, Smith was charged by Cpl. Josenhans of the Natural Resources Police, with removing oysters from a sanctuary and in Somerset County District Court he was found not guilty on Nov. 20, 2008. Smith may have been found not guilty due to his representation by attorney Kirk G. Simpkins of Princess Anne, Md.
  • Two NRP officers check a waterman's catch.

    Two NRP officers check a waterman’s catch.

    Smith was cited with placing his crab pots in a restricted area on Oct. 6, 2007, by Officer J. Howard. In Somerset County District Court he entered into a plea deal with the Somerset States Attorney and entered a guilty plea in return for a fine of $92.50.

  • Smith was cited by NRP Officer Richardson on March 7, 2002, with possession of undersize oysters. In a plea deal with the Somerset County States Attorney on July 1, 2002, he pled guilty and was fined $130.00.
  • Smith was cited by NRP Officer T. Shores on Jan. 9, 2002, for possession of undersized oysters. In a plea deal with the Somerset County States Attorney, he was fined $130.00 on Jan. 28, 2002.
  • Cpl. Dennis Leland on Natural Resources Police boat

    Cpl. Dennis Leland on Natural Resources Police boat. THE CHESAPEAKE TODAY photo

    Smith was cited by NRP Officer C. Medellin on Oct. 9, 2000, with harvesting oysters on a closed oyster bar. In a deal with Kent County States Attorney Robert Strong Jr. on Jan. 30, 2001, Smith was given a Stet Docket disposition of the charge with no fine and no time.

  • Smith was cited by NRP Officer Robert Purnell on Nov. 9, 1994, with possession of undersized oyster. In Somerset County District Court on Jan. 5, 1995, Smith pled guilty in a deal with the prosecutor which gave him a fine of $70.00.
  • Smith was cited by NRP Officer Victor Kulynycz with possession of undersized hard crabs on May 31, 1993, and in Somerset County District Court he pled guilty and was fined $70.00.
  • Smith was cited by NPR Officer Dennis W. Leland with possession of unculled oysters on Nov. 12, 1991, and in St. Mary’s County District Court on Jan. 9, 1992, he entered a plea of guilty and was fined $70.00.

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)

Email: statesattorney@baltimorecountymd.gov

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)

e-mail: cflaugher@ccgov.org

State’s Attorney, Cecil County, since January 3, 2011.

MATTHEW A. MACIARELLO, Wicomico County State’s Attorney (Republican),
e-mail: mmaciarello@wicomicocounty.org

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)

e-mail: lrichardson@qac.org

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: hmurphy@kentgov.org, State’s Attorney, Kent County, since January 5, 2015.

Daniel Powell, Somerset County States Attorney (Republican)

e-mail: dpowell@co.somerset.md.us

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)

e-mail: jnewell@carolinesao.org

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)

e-mail: boglesby@co.worcester.md.us

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)

e-mail: wjones@docogonet.com

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)

e-mail: aacsao@aacounty.org

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)

e-mail: covingtt@charlescounty.org

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)

e-mail: martinll@co.cal.md.us

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)

e-mail: richard.fritz@co.saint-marys.md.us

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)

e-mail: statty@harfordcountymd.gov

State’s Attorney, Harford County, since January 1983. Assistant State’s Attorney, Harford County, 1977-82

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