Pirate Poachers of the Chesapeake: All the Governor’s Outlaw Watermen

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All the Governor's Outlaw Watermen

 

(Note: not all of the watermen shown in photo with Gov. Hogan are poachers. They appeared with Hogan on Feb. 27, 2016 to have a breakfast in Waldorf as the Governor pursued his policy to put a hold on oyster replenishment programs.)

OUTLAW WATERMEN FEAR FISH STUDY COULD CUT DOWN ON THEIR POACHING OPPORTUNITIES

By Ken Rossignol

THE CHESAPEAKE TODAY

Part of a continuing news & commentary series on Chesapeake Bay poaching activites

ANNAPOLIS, MD. — When it comes to knowing how to make a buck off of oysters, crabs and fish there are few equals to two St. Mary’s County watermen who have criticized a proposed law to order a study of the wisdom to increase wild oyster harvests.  Both have been convicted of illegal harvest of oysters, crabs and fish in Maryland waters.  

Their records of criminal poaching reach back for decades, especially in the case of Robert T. Brown, the president of the Maryland Watermen’s Association, and “Bunky” Chance, President of the Talbot County Watermen’s Association; both of whom are serial Pirate Poachers of the Chesapeake.

Another quoted as being critical of a new study being proposed by a Montgomery County State Senator, was involved in a major federal rockfish sting with his father sent to federal prison for Lacey Act violations.

Brown was convicted as part of an interstate and international fish poaching network of large mouth bass; the other, Lumpkins, got caught up in another federal sting in violations of the Lacey Act,  with rockfish as the species made a strong resurgence.

Brown was appointed by the O’Malley and Hogan Administrations to several task forces giving advice to the Governor, the General Assembly, and the regulators.  Evidently the regulators and Gov. Martin O’Malley, as well as Governor Larry Hogan, believed that efforts to preserve natural resources would benefit from outlaw Watermen with an unequaled record of poaching.  One such task force is: Task Force to Study the Impact of Ocean Acidification on State Waters

Robert T. Brown Sr. is also a member of the Tidal Fisheries Advisory Commission, appointed by the Governor; and the Blue Crab Task Force.

This excerpt from the Bay Journal of March 10, 2016, which never mentioned the poaching backgrounds of the two watermen they interviewed — if the reporter even knew about those records — explains their viewpoints:

“We’re scared that a study like this is just going to impose more restrictions on us,” said Lance Lumpkins, a 28-year-old waterman from St. Mary’s County, who noted that there aren’t many young men like him in a fishery that hasn’t offered much of living until lately.

From Bay Journal

As introduced, the bill would have barred the DNR from doing anything to increase wild oyster harvests until the study is finished — proposed restrictions that raised the hackles of watermen, industry representatives and state fisheries officials. In a bid for a compromise, Manno said those curbs would be dropped from the legislation, calling them an “over-reach.”

But opponents were not mollified. Watermen from around the state lined the witness table to question the need for the study.

Pirate Poacher of the Bay One Man Takes a Stand“We’re scared that a study like this is just going to impose more restrictions on us,” said Lance Lumpkins, a 28-year-old waterman from St. Mary’s County, who noted that there aren’t many young men like him in a fishery that hasn’t offered much of living until lately.

Opponents pointed out that the DNR is already in the process of reviewing its oyster management policies, especially the extensive network of sanctuaries created five years ago that have put 25 percent of the historic bivalve habitat off-limits to harvest. That review is scheduled to be completed in June or July, according to state officials.

“There is no reason to have another study,” said Robert T. Brown Sr., president of the Maryland Watermen’s Association. He complained the bill doesn’t offer any role in the study for watermen, even though he contended they know more about oysters from harvesting them than anyone else.

Brown also questioned how the study would be paid for, noting that legislative analysts have estimated it would cost $340,000.

Annual oyster harvests slid from a peak of 14 million bushels in the 1880s to a record low of just 26,000 bushels in 2003, a decline scientists have attributed to historical overharvesting, habitat loss, pollution and the diseases MSX and Dermo, which ravaged oysters from the late 1980s through the early 2000s. But the diseases have abated since then, and fewer bivalves are dying.….MORE

 

LANCE LUMPKINS

Lumpkins Sentenced to 18 Months in Federal Prison

WASHINGTON—Sept. 25, 2009 — Robert Lumpkins, owner of Golden Eye Seafood LLC, of St. Mary’s County, Md., was sentenced to 18 months in prison and the company was sentenced today to 3 years’ probation by U.S. District Judge Peter J. Messitte after a two-day sentencing hearing in the District of Maryland, the Justice Department announced.

Additionally, they were sentenced to pay a fine of $36,000 and restitution of $164,040.50 along with a special assessment of $1,600.

Lumpkins and Golden Eye had previously pleaded guilty to conspiring to violate and violating the Lacey Act, by falsely recording the amount and weight of striped bass, also known as rockfish that were harvested by local fishermen and checked-in through Golden Eye from 2003 to 2007.

According to Lumpkins’ plea agreement, from at least 2003 to the present, he was a fish wholesaler, doing business from his residence in Piney Point, Md., under the name Golden Eye Seafood.  Lumpkins, through, Golden Eye, acted as a commercial striped bass check-in station for the state of Maryland.  Lumpkins admitted that on numerous occasions from 2003 to 2007, he falsely recorded the amount of striped bass that fisherman harvested and failed to record some of the striped bass that was caught or recorded a lower weight of striped bass than was actually caught.

Lumpkins and the fishermen would also falsely inflate the actual number of fish harvested.  By under-reporting the weight of fish harvested, and over-reporting the number of fish taken, the records would make it appear that the fishermen had failed to reach the maximum poundage quota for the year, but had nonetheless run out of tags.  As a result, the state would issue additional tags that could be used by the fishermen allowing them to catch striped bass above their maximum poundage quota amount.  Lumpkins and Golden Eye shipped the majority of the fish to purchasers in Maryland and in other states.  Lumpkins also purchased fish that were outside the legal size limit from an undercover agent and sold those fish to purchasers in New York, Virginia, and California.

Lumpkins was released on Feb. 11, 2011.  He and his son Lance operate Golden Eye Seafood.

Pirate Poachers of the Chesapeake: Lumpkins Seafood Boat Caught Red-Handed with Undersize Fish

PINEY POINT, MD. — What is about being a pirate poacher of the Chesapeake Bay that attracts the Lumpkins family like moths to a flame?

The Maryland Natural Resources Police report that an illegal fishing operation underway in recent days at the mouth of the Patuxent River resulted in the seizure of twenty-five percent of the catch of croakers found in the possession of the operators of a commercial fishing vessel owned by Lumpkins & Sons Fisheries LLC of Piney Point, Md.

Thousands of undersized croakers wound up dead after the Lumpkin's boats were nabbed for poaching in mouth of Patuxent River in 2015.

Thousands of undersized croakers wound up dead after the Lumpkin’s boats were nabbed for poaching in mouth of Patuxent River in 2015.

The Lumpkins enjoy a colorful past of a revolving door of federal and state fisheries laws including federal convictions. Maryland Natural Resources Police officers are investigating an illegal commercial fishing operation at the mouth of the Patuxent River in St. Mary’s County that resulted in the harvesting of thousands of pounds of undersized croaker.

GANGSTER OUTLAW WATERMEN at WORK: Just a portion of the seized catch of undersized croaker from the Lumpkins family boats by the NRP officers.

GANGSTER OUTLAW WATERMEN at WORK: Just a portion of the seized catch of undersized croaker from the Lumpkins family boats by the NRP officers.

On May 12, 2015, Natural Resources Police report that officers received a complaint about a large number of dead fish floating near Town Creek, a tributary of the Patuxent. Searching the area, officers saw a vessel, the McKenzie Leigh, unloading fish at a nearby pier.

The vessel was holding about 14,000 pounds of croaker and other species of fish, many appearing to be undersized. Seventeen NRP officers from four counties were assigned to measure the entire catch, an effort that took 12 hours. The fish were kept under refrigeration in trucks provided by the Waterman.

Approximately 3,500 pounds—or 25 percent—of the catch were found to be undersized. Those fish were seized and returned to the water.

Three fishermen and two men offloading the fish were questioned. NRP officers will be reviewing the evidence with the State’s Attorney’s Office in St. Mary’s County. Charges are pending, say police.

According to Coast Guard records, the McKenzie Leigh is registered to the Lumpkins fishing business along with the commercial fishing vessels Middle Ground and Golden Eye.

Lance Lumpkins with a boat load of rockfish Photo from Facebook

Lance Lumpkins with a boat load of rockfish Photo from Facebook

Robert Lance Lumpkins, 24, of Piney Point, was indicted for distribution of drugs on June 24, 2009, and when a jury trial was scheduled for Sept. 30, 2010, the charges were dropped by St. Mary’s County States Attorney Richard Fritz on Sept. 24, 2010.

On Dec. 26, 2009, Robert Lance Lumpkins was charged with burglary and on March 11, 2010, he pleaded guilty and received a jail term of ninety days which was suspended in a plea deal with Fritz and given unsupervised probation before judgment.

With Leonardtown attorneys Phillip Dorsey and Kevin J. McDevitt representing him in these actions as well as an appeal of a pending decision before the Potomac River Fisheries Commission regarding his seafood business, Lumpkins showed that he had no intention of taking a chance with a public defender and hired the best available criminal attorneys.  With no fine for a guilty plea to burglary and no jail time, it appears it was a good decision.

A citation for negligent operation issued by the Natural Resources Police on Sept. 1, 2011, resulted in a guilty plea and a fine of $320.00 with $242.50 of the fine suspended.

On March 6, 2012, Robert Lance Lumpkins was charged with using the seafood dealer tags of another by Natural Resources Police and on August 2, 2012, he entered a guilty plea and was again given an unsupervised probation before judgment with no jail time and fine of $227.50.

Evidently the State of Maryland is worried that Robert Lance Lumpkins will make it back to shore, perhaps to pay his many fines and on May 19, 2012, they issued him a citation for not having the approved number of lifejackets on his workboat and on May 29, 2012, he was assessed a $72.50 fine and court costs.

On June 4, 2014, Robert Lance Lumpkins was issued a citation by Natural Resources Police Officer Grice for possession of undersize rockfish with the case due to be heard in District Court in St. Mary’s County on Aug. 7, 2014.

Robert Maurice Lumpkins along with nearly two dozen other watermen filed a court action against the Potomac River Fisheries Commission and the State of Maryland regarding natural resources regulations which was not successful. A Judge ruled that the PRFC did have authority to set catch limitations and the action was voluntarily withdrawn on Oct. 4, 1999.

Another action against the PRFC in 2012 over regulations was again unsuccessful in St. Mary’s Circuit Court with a negative ruling by Judge David Densford and an appeal to the Court of Special Appeals denied on April 15, 2013.

On March 29, 2002, Robert Maurice Lumpkins was issued a citation by Natural Resources Police Officer R. Starliper for possessing undersized white perch and the charge was put on the stet docket with no fine assessed.

Robert Maurice Lumpkins was issued a citation for possession of one undersize rockfish on Jan. 17, 2008 and the charge was dropped by St. Mary’s States Attorney Richard Fritz on March 14, 2008.

While many other citations have been given to Lumpkins, his son, and their various seafood companies, the reigning king of indictments resulted in a conviction in federal court in the case of the United States v. Golden Eye Seafood.

 

Robert T Brown at Gansler

Robert T Brown at Gansler campaign stop in Leonardtown, Md. THE CHESAPEAKE TODAY photo

ROBERT T. BROWN

Stolen fish case nets 4 guilty pleas

September 16, 1995,|By Scott Higham | Scott Higham, Sun Staff Writer

One of the biggest black market fish cases in Maryland history came to court this week and all four defendants went belly up, admitting they stole thousands of protected bass from the Potomac River that wound up at seafood markets and restaurants as far away as Toronto.

Facing five-year prison terms and $250,000 in fines, the men from Southern Maryland pleaded guilty to breaking federal law by stealing more than 40,000 pounds of protected largemouth bass worth nearly $150,000 from the Potomac between 1990 and 1993.

Pleading guilty to felony conspiracy charges in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt were Dennis Patrick Woodruff, Alfred Barney Grinder and Walter Irving Maddox, all from Charles County. Robert T. Brown Sr. of St. Mary’s County pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Jane F. Barrett.

The men, most of them longtime watermen, will be sentenced in November and December.

The case unfolded in February 1993 when Canadian conservation officer Brad Labadie noticed fish shipments bound for Toronto were darker and much larger than farm-raised largemouth bass.

Documents show that Woodruff used a state Department of Natural Resources license to ship the bass, claiming they had been farm-raised. But investigators later found that the bass had been netted from the Potomac, not from his licensed ponds in Marbury, records show.

Game fish, such as largemouth bass, cannot legally be taken from the wild and sold commercially. Thomas Brown, Woodruff’s attorney, did not return calls yesterday.

Steven A. Allen, Grinder’s attorney, said his client “regrets his actions, and it is because of that regret that he agreed to plead guilty.”

Robert C. Bonsib, Robert T. Brown’s attorney, said the case has been a “traumatic experience” for his client. “He’s happy to put it behind him.”

Joel L. Katz, Maddox’s attorney, said the case has a larger meaning.

“It’s a commentary on the harsh economic times because of the problems with the bay,” Mr. Katz said. “My client is basically a hard-working waterman trying to eke out a living. . . . It was hard to make ends meet.”      MORE

image description

From The Washington Post:

 

By Todd Shields, March 12, 1995

State workers using large syringes injected tags into the gut cavities of 3,361 largemouth bass. Subsequent scans, routinely conducted at tournaments, helped allay fears that the contests concentrated fish around release areas or cleared bass out of heavily fished pockets of the river.

Yet another scan was conducted under circumstances that biologists found surprising: under a search warrant, in the company of state Natural Resources Police at commercial fish ponds being used by Dennis P. Woodruff — one of the four men named in the 10-count federal indictment.

Authorities say they found bass from the river in Woodruff’s ponds.

“We could take the wand and determine when and where they were released,” said Mel Beaven, a state regional fisheries biologist, “and they certainly weren’t released in his ponds.” Woodruff, 47, of Bryans Road in Charles County, is accused of buying fish hauled from the river by the three other men, then shipping the bass onward under cover of his aquaculture permit, which allows him to raise and sell fish. He denied the charges through his attorney, C. Thomas Brown, of Baltimore.

Also accused are Alfred B. Grinder, 42, and Walter I. Maddox, 61, both of Marbury in Charles County; and Robert T. Brown Sr., 44, of Avenue in St. Mary’s County. Maddox and Brown declined to comment; Grinder’s attorney, Steven A. Allen, of Baltimore, said his client denies the charges.

The four, who are to be arraigned tomorrow, are charged under a federal law that prohibits selling protected wildlife bass across state lines and carries penalties of up to five years’ imprisonment. Authorities say that between 1990 and 1993, the foursome shipped more than 40,000 pounds of wild bass worth more than $150,000.

The scale of the alleged offense startled some in wildlife and fishing circles.

“It’s to my knowledge the biggest fish case the state of Maryland’s ever had,” said Natural Resources Police Cpl. Michael Burnham, a 20-year department veteran who spent much of the last two years investigating the case.

The alleged method also shocked many anglers: Authorities say the men used several types of nets to capture the game fish. In the bass industry, a strong conservationist ethic has taken hold, and anglers return fish to the river far more often than they take them home.

“You can literally wipe out a good segment of the spawning males with one haul of the haul seine,” a type of net mentioned in the indictment, said Bob Lunsford, state director of freshwater fisheries.

The first nibble in the case came in April 1993 when Maryland authorities received a letter from Michigan wildlife officials questioning a shipment from their jurisdiction to Toronto of 3,000 pounds of live largemouth bass. A copy of Woodruff’s aquaculture permit accompanied the shipment, court documents said.

Canadian authorities already had contacted police in Michigan, reporting that a customs officer in Niagara Falls had noticed the shipment contained dark bass in mixed sizes; bass raised in ponds usually are similar in size and are lightly colored.

In interviews, some experts doubted that it was possible to tell hatchery and wild bass apart solely on the basis of color. But Beaven, who works at a state fish hatchery, said largemouth bass are “extremely cannibalistic” and must be segregated by size to prevent the large from eating the small — a condition that makes it unlikely that pond-raised fish would be of the varied sizes reported in court documents.

Burnham went on to investigate Woodruff’s property and uncovered a paper trail of payments and invoices — some misrepresenting largemouth bass as carp — that stretched through a wholesale company in Ohio and on to Michigan and Ontario, according to court documents. When the indictment was handed up in Baltimore on Feb. 15, it alleged sales in New York, Georgia, and Ontario.

Anglers, commercial fishermen and fisheries officials all said they doubted that the case points toward a large-scale poaching problem, although small-scale poaching is believed to be chronic. Many agreed, however, that the case underscores how thinly the Natural Resources Police are spread. They have five small boats to patrol the Potomac from the Woodrow Wilson Bridge to the Chesapeake Bay, typically with only one officer per boat.….MORE

Robert T. Brown endorsing Attorney General Doug Gansler in his 2014 race for Governor.

Robert T. Brown endorsing Attorney General Doug Gansler in his 2014 race for Governor.

Robert T Brown Sr., DOB 05/1950

Cited by NRP Officer Richard Carroll Sr., on Sept. 6, 1998, with failing to maintain lights on pound nets. In District Court of St. Mary’s County on Oct. 16, 1998, was found guilty and fined $120.

Cited on Oct. 11, 2000, by NRP for possession of rockfish under 15”. Appearing in St. Mary’s County District Court on Dec. 15, 2000, the charge was dropped by St. Mary’s State’s Attorney Richard Fritz.

Cited on March 12, 2013, by NRP Officer Harry Booth for set haul seine without permission by NRP Officers Griggs and Grice. Represented by David H. Chapman in Charles County District Court on June 19, 2013, the charge was put on the stet docket with no fine.

Robert T. Brown Jr. DOB Jan. 1, 1970

Cited on May 30, 1993, for possession of undersized crabs in Charles County District Court. On June 29, 1993, he was found guilty on June 29, 1993. The Judge in the case failed to assess any fine.

Cited by NRP Officer Richard Carroll Sr. on June 7, 1998, for failing to possess required Coast Guard equipment. Appearing in St. Mary’s County District Court on June 7, 1998, Brown was found guilty and fined $30 plus court costs.

Cited by NRP Officer Jowanowitch on March 13, 1995, Brown Jr. was charged with failing to mark pound nets and in Calvert County District Court on June 13, 1995, was found guilty and no fine was assessed by the Judge.

Pirate Poachers of the Chesapeake

Governor Gets Advice from Outlaw Watermen!

Many Members of Governor’s Blue Crab Task Force, Tidal Fisheries, and Critical Areas Commission Have Records of DNR Rule Breaking and Poaching

ANNAPOLIS, MD. — Members of the Blue Crab Task Force are appointed by the Secretary of Natural Resources to assist in guiding policy for safeguarding the resources of the Chesapeake Bay.

“The Task Force works to develop consensus on policy and harvesting regulations for blue crabs,” according to the Maryland Manual.

Every Waterman member of the task force has numerous Natural Resources Police citations that they have accumulated over the years. All are on the current list of members of the task force which was updated by Governor Larry Hogan this week and is available online.

While many recreational fishermen have numerous violations for various illegal possession of undersized catches, none are members of the task force or have the same level of input towards developing policy or regulations for blue crabs. Thus, some of the commercial watermen breaking the rules sit in positions to influence policy while pointing the finger at the violations of recreational fishermen, who do not share in policy making.

BLUE CRAB TASK FORCE

Staff: Lynn W. Fegley (410) 260-8285; e-mail: lynn.fegley@maryland.gov

Appointed by Secretary of Natural Resources:

(2016 listing of members) – Michael E. Slattery, Chair

Jack Brooks; H. Russell Dize; Carol Haltaman; Kenny Keen; Ken Lewis, Ph.D.; Dwight Marshall; Roy Meredith; Thomas J. Miller, Ph.D.; Brice Phillips; Gladston Tyler; Bruno Vasta; William R. Woodfield, Jr.; five vacancies.

Bruno Morreale Vasta

Bruno Morreale Vasta of Lusby, Md., was cited for possession of undersized Rockfish on Nov. 1, 2000. In a plea deal with the Calvert County States Attorney on Jan. 8, 2001, Vasta was given Probation before Judgment with no fine and no time.

Gladston William Tyler Jr.

Gladston Tyler of Smith Island, Md., was cited by NRP Officer S. Payne on July 3, 2003, with possession of undersized crabs. In a plea deal with the Somerset County States Attorney on Aug. 19, 2003, he was fined $130.

Gladston Tyler was cited by NRP Officer Shannon on Nov. 20, 2002, with commercial crabbing after legal hours on Nov. 20, 2002. In a plea deal with St. Mary’s States Attorney Richard Fritz in St. Mary’s District Court on Jan. 2, 2003, he was fined $100.

Gladston Tyler was cited on Sept. 6, 2001, with possession of undersize crabs by NRP Officer Robert J. Purnell Jr.  In a plea deal on Jan. 1, 2002 in Somerset County District Court with the Somerset County States Attorney, Tyler entered a guilty plea and was fined $70.

Gladston Tyler was cited with possession of undersized hard crabs on Aug. 14, 1999, by NRP Officer D. Tyler. IN a plea deal with the Somerset County States Attorney, Tyler entered a guilty plea and was fined $250.

Gladston Tyler was cited NRP Officer James H. Vallandingham with having an obstructed cull ring on Sept. 28, 1998, and was fined $5 in St. Mary’s District Court on Oct. 28, 1998, in a plea deal with St. Mary’s States Attorney Walter B. Dorsey.

Gladston Tyler was cited with unlawfully obstructed cull rings on Aug. 31, 1994, and was fined $80.

Gladston Tyler was cited by NRP Officer Victor Kulynycz with possession of undersized blue crabs on July 29, 1993. In Somerset County District Court, he entered into a plea deal with the Somerset County States Attorney he was fined $70.

Dwight William Marshall

Dwight William Marshall of Tylerton, Md., was cited on July 209 by NRP Officer J. Howard with possession of undersized crabs. In a plea deal with Somerset County States Attorney on Sept. 24, 2009, the charge was put on the Stet Docket with no fine and no time.

(members are shown in 2015)

  • Roy Wayne Meredith Jr., of Toddville Road in Toddville, Maryland
  • Meredith was found guilty in Dorchester County District Court on July 16, 2014. He was fined $155 after being cited by NRP Officer E. Tyler on March 14, 2014. Meredith was also found guilty that same day of dredging outside of a dredge zone and fined $1,000 after being cited by NRP Officer A. Wilson. An additional charge was heard in court that day as Meredith pleaded not guilty but was found guilty of dredging in an area reserved for hand tonging. For that charge, he was found guilty and fined $1,000. Rounding out a tough day in court for the poaching member of the Governor’s Task Force was a charge of possessing undersize and unculled oysters. Meredith was fined $155 on that charge.
  • Meredith’s experience as an outlaw watermen dates back to March 20, 1998, when he was cited for possession of undersized oysters and in Dorchester County District Court he was found guilty but amazingly when he entered a guilty plea, the charge was merged with others levied against him by NRP Officer R. Bowman. In Dorchester District Court on June 15, 1998, he entered a guilty plea to another charge from the same day and was fined $480.

 

The Chairman of the Blue Crab Task Force is Michael E. Slattery, who is also a staffer of the DNR.  Court records show that

  • Michael Edward Slattery of Severna Park was charged with DUI by Maryland State Police Cpl. W. Johnson on March 22, 2009, on Rt. 50 at Beaver Dam Road at 10:30 am. In Talbot County District Court on May 27, 2009, he entered a guilty plea in a deal with the Talbot States Attorney and his attorney William McAllister Jr., of Cambridge, Md. In that deal, Slattery was fined $400 and sent to jail for 60 days with 56 days of the sentence suspended.
  • On July 11, 2007, Slattery was arrested by an Anne Arundel County Police Officer for DUI on Rt. 2 and in Anne Arundel District Court on Oct. 5th of that year, he entered a guilty plea. He was fined $92.50 and put on probation before judgment. The DUI arrest contributed to an accident, according to court records.

Herman Russell Dize, of Tilghman, Md., a member of the Blue Crab Task Force has also been charged with poaching.

  • On Nov. 3, 1997, he was charged by NRP Officer Charles Farley with harvesting oysters between 3 pm and sunrise. In Kent County District Court on Dec. 18, 1997, the charge was dropped by the States Attorney.
  • On Jan. 27, 1992, Dize was cited by NRP Officer Charles Bridges with possession of unculled oysters. In Talbot County District Court on Jan. 31, 1992, he was found guilty and fined $70.
  • On Sept. 7, 1999, Dize was cited by NRP Officer David C. Thomas Jr., with harvesting oysters without a surcharge. In Talbot County District Court on Oct. 4, 1999, he was found guilty and fined $100.
  • On Feb. 26, 1996, Dize was cited by NRP Officer G. Garvin with possession of oysters less than 3 inches in size. In Kent County District Court on March 4, 1996, he was found guilty and fined $170.
  • On Nov. 1, 2000, Dize was cited by NRP Officer Robert Kersey with possession of undersized oysters and unculled oysters. In Kent County District Court on Jan. 3, 2001, he was found guilty and fined $90.

Blue Crab Task Force member Kenny Keen

  • Keen might know something about blue crabs but it was his expertise with rockfish that caught the attention of NRP Officer Santerre on July 8, 1993 when he was cited with 21 counts of violations concerning daily allocations in taking of rockfish. On Aug. 9, 1993, in Calvert County District Court, all of the charges were dropped by the Calvert County States Attorney.
  • On Dec. 15, 1997, Keen was cited by NRP Officer Lisa M. Nyland with taking oysters for commercial purposes after hours. In Queen Anne’s County District Court on Feb. 4, 1998, he was found guilty and fined $50.

Keen has served as president of the Calvert County Waterman’s Association and of the Maryland Watermen’s Association. By 2003, he had sold his boat, the Long Shot, and went to work as the deputy director of the fisheries service at the Maryland Dept. of Natural Resources.

Dwight Marshall, of Tylerton, Md., also a member of the task force,

  • Marshall was cited by NRP Officer J. Howard on July 27, 2009, for possession of undersized hard crabs. In Somerset County District Court, on Sept. 24, 2009, the Somerset County States Attorney put the charge on the Stet Docket without any fine assessed.
  • On June 19, 1997, Marshall was cited by NRP Officer Almos Newsome for failing to have his numbers on his crab pots. In St. Mary’s County District Court he pleaded guilty on July 16, 1997, and was fined $30.

Gladston William Tyler Jr., of Smith Island, Md.,

  • Tyler was cited by NRP Officer S. Payne on July 3, 2003, with possession of undersized crabs. In Somerset County District Court on Aug. 19, 2003, he was found guilty and fined $130.
  • On Nov. 20, 2002, NRP Officer Shannon cited Tyler with commercial crabbing after hours and in St. Mary’s District Court on Jan. 2, 2003, he entered a plea of guilty and was fined $100.
  • On Sept. 6, 2001, Tyler was cited by NRP Officer Robert Purnell Jr. with possession of undersized crabs. In Somerset County District Court on Jan. 7, 2002, Tyler entered a guilty plea and was fined $70.
  • On Aug. 14, 1999, Tyler was cited by NRP Officer Tyler with possession of undersized crabs and in Somerset County District Court on Oct. 8, 1999, he entered a guilty plea and was fined $250.
  • Tyler was one of more than a dozen waterman who filed a lawsuit against the Potomac River Fisheries Commission contending that the PRFC didn’t have authority to set catch limits. In a ruling in St. Mary’s County Circuit Court, on Sept. 22, 1999, the court ruled that the Commission did have the authority to take such action and the case was dropped by Tyler and the other plaintiffs.

Bruno Vasta, of Lusby, Md., another member of the Blue Crab Task Force.

  • Vasta was cited by NRP Officer Brian Rathgeb with possession of undersized crabs on Nov. 1, 2000. In Calvert County District Court on Jan. 8, 2001, the Calvert States Attorney struck a deal for him to have probation before judgment and he paid no fine.

William R. Woodfield Jr., of Galesville, Md.,

  • Woodfield was cited by NRP Officer M. Hunt with possession of small oysters in the amount of 14% on Dec. 15, 2011. In Anne Arundel County District Court on Feb. 17, 2012, Woodfield entered a guilty plea and was fined $300.
  • On July 20, 1999, Woodfield was cited by NRP Officer D. Scheler for possession of undersized flounder. He entered a guilty plea in Anne Arundel County District Court on Aug. 11, 1999, and was fined $70.

 

Members of the Oyster Advisory Commission & violations of NRP regulations and laws:

Anthony C. Chatwin – Chairman (none)

Mark Bryer – (none)

Kelton L. Clark, (none)

Donald F. Boesch, (none)

Evan K. Thalenberg, (none)

Eric Schott, (none)

Kelley P. Cox – (none)

William J. Goldsborough – (none)

Douglas Legum – (none)

Ben Parks- (none)

Peyton Robertson – (none)

Shane Robinson – (none)

Eric Schott

Evan K. Thalenberg

Donald W Webster, (none)

William D. Windley Jr., (none)

Walter (Robbie) Witt Jr., of Broadwater Road in Churchton, Md.; was cited on Jan. 27, 1995 by NRP Officer Lisa M. Nyland for catching hard crabs during the closed season. In Queen Anne’s County District Court on April 21, 1995, he claimed he was not guilty, but was found guilty and fined $120.

 Len Zuza – (none)

Striped Bass Program Manager Harry T. Hornick:

TIDAL FISHERIES ADVISORY COMMISSION

Appointed by Governor with advice of Secretary of Natural Resources to 2-year terms:

William L. Rice, Sr., Chair (chosen by Commission), 2015

TIDAL FISHERIES ADVISORY COMMISSION

Staff: Paul V. Genovese (410) 260-8328; e-mail: paul.genovese@maryland.gov

Appointed by Governor with advice of Secretary of Natural Resources to 2-year terms:

William L. Rice, Sr., Chair (chosen by Commission), 2017

William J. Goldsborough; John R. Martin. Terms expire 2015.

Recorded members in 2016:

James D. Blackwell, Jr.; Robert T. Brown, Sr.; Lee R. Carson III; Rachel Dean; H. Russell Dize; Robert W. (Moochie) Gilmer; Kenneth D. Jeffries, Jr.; Steven R. Lay; Charles R. Manley; William J. Scerbo, Jr.; Virginia D. (Gail) Sindorf; Aubrey M. Vincent; William T. Wilkins. Terms expire 2017.

Recorded members in 2015:

Michael A. Benjamin; Robert T. Brown, Sr.; Dale A. Dawson; Rachel Dean; Robert W. Gilmer; William J. Goldsborough; Gregory B. Jetton; Charles R. Manley; John R. Martin; F. William Sieling III; Virginia D. (Gail) Sindorf; Aubrey M. Vincent; Elijah L. Wilson, Jr.; Richard D. Young. Terms expire 2015.

Charles Richard Manley

  • Charles Richard Manley, of Rock Hall, Md., was cited by NRP Officer Donald Mackall on Oct. 31, 2006, for possession of undersized and unculled oysters. In a plea deal with the Kent County States Attorney on Jan. 3, 2007, Manley was fined $155.

John Russell Martin

  • John Russell Martin, of Ocean City, Md., was cited on Feb.11, 2000 by NRP Officer Glenn W. Lay with possession of an excess number of summer flounder permitted by his license. A plea deal in Worcester County District Court on March 27, 2000, resulted in a plea bargain with the Worcester County States Attorney and a fine of $240.

Gregory B. Jetton

  • Gregory B. Jetton, of Rock Hall, Md., was cited on June 15, 2000, by NRP Officer R. Price for illegal possession of Rockfish resulted in a guilty plea in Kent County District Court as a plea deal with the Kent County States Attorney giving him probation before judgment and a fine of $80.
  • Cited on the same day with exceeding his daily limit of Rockfish, his plea deal resulted in a fine of $260.

Elijah Lee Wilson Jr.:

  • Wilson, of Marion, Md., – Rockfish violation cited by NRP Officer Glenn W. Lay on Feb. 19, 1999, entered a guilty plea in Somerset County District Court on March 19, 1999, and was fined $480. Reselling finfish without a DLR license pleaded guilty, fined $100.
Robert T Brown Sr, Senator Hershel, Delegate Jacobs photo courtesy of Md Watermen's Assoc.

Robert T Brown Sr, President of Md. Watermen’s Assoc., Senator Stephen S. Hershey, (R.) Delegate Jacobs (R.) photo courtesy of Md Watermen’s Assoc.

Robert T. Brown Sr.:

  • Cited by NRP Officer Grice with set haul seine without permission on March 12, 2013. In Charles County District Court on June 19, 2013, the Charles County States Attorney agreed to place the charge on the Stet Docket with no fine, no time.
  • Robert T. Brown, of Olen Mattingly Road in Avenue, Md., was cited on Nov. 1, 2001, with failing to properly tag Rockfish (striped bass) by NRP Officer Richard Carroll Sr. On Feb. 15, 2002, St. Mary’s States Attorney Richard Fritz requested the appointment of a Special Prosecutor. In a plea deal with the Special Prosecutor John L. Erly, in District Court for St. Mary’s County, dropped several charges with no fine, no time. On one count, a plea deal was made for a fine of $480. Attorney Julian J. Izydore (now disbarred) was the attorney for Brown.
  • Cited by NRP Officer Harry Booth for possession of Rockfish (striped bass undersize) on Oct. 11, 2000, Brown went to St. Mary’s District Court on Dec. 15, 2000, where St. Mary’s States Attorney Richard Fritz dropped the charges.
  • Cited by NRP Officer Richard L. Carroll Sr. for failing to maintain lights on commercial fishing pound nets on Sept. 6, 1998. In District Court for St. Mary’s County on Oct. 16, 1998, Brown entered a not guilty plea but was found guilty and fined $120.
  • Cited by NRP Officer Sherman on July 15, 1992, with failing to mark pound net with red.
  • Cited by NRP Officer Richard Carroll Sr. on Dec. 2, 1995, with failing to maintain license number on pound net. In St. Mary’s District Court on Jan. 19, 1996 St. Mary’s States Attorney Walter B. Dorsey placed the charge on the Stet Docket with no fine.
  • Robert T. Brown Jr., son of Robert T. Brown, was cited by NRP Officer Jowanowitch on March 13, 1995, with failing to mark pound net, Brown entered a guilty plea on June 13, 1995, in Calvert County District Court. No fine was levied against him.
  • Cited by NRP Officer Richard Carroll Sr. for taking oysters from unmarked lease ground on Oct. 15, 1993. In St. Mary’s County District Court on Dec. 17, 1993, Brown pleaded not guilty and the Judge found him guilty and levied a $30 fine — which was immediately suspended, perhaps because Christmas was only a week away; indicating a bushel of oysters likely ended up on the Judge’s doorstep.
  • Cited by NRP Officer Sherman on July 15, 1992, with failing to mark pound net with a red waterproof sign. In Charles County District Court on Sept. 15, 1992, was found guilty and fined Zero dollars.
Francis Jack Russell at the helm of his Skipjack Dee of St. Mary's with enviro-tourists learning about saving the Chesapeake Bay.

Francis Jack Russell at the helm of his Skipjack Dee of St. Mary’s with enviro-tourists learning about saving the Chesapeake Bay.

 

Francis Jack Russell – Critical Areas Commission Member and former St. Mary’s County Commissioner President

  • Cited by NRP Officer Richard Carroll Sr. for undersized oysters on Nov. 18, 1995. In St. Mary’s District Court on Dec. 28, 1995, Russell was found guilty and fined $150.
  • Cited by NRP Officer Charles P. Sauter on Aug. 19, 1994, for placing crab pots in a restricted area. In St. Mary’s District Court on Aug. 24, 1994, Russell was found guilty and fined $130.

Talbot States Attorney Scott Patterson lets Lynch Brothers skate on charges without paying a penny in fines for oyster poaching

Hogan caves to watermen on replenishment program after vowing to end the ‘war on watermen’; Lt. Gov. met with two watermen

“There’s been a war on rural Maryland. There’s been a war on the Eastern Shore. There’s been an outright assault on watermen and farmers, but it’s going to end…,” Hogan said at a September 2014 fundraiser in Cambridge during his gubernatorial campaign.

One waterman with extensive background as pirate poacher is also
president of Talbot County Watermen’s Association

Hogan pledged to stop oyster replenishment project on Choptank River at campaign rally with watermen. Star Democrat photo

Hogan pledged to stop oyster replenishment project on Choptank River at campaign rally with watermen. Star Democrat photo

At a campaign rally hosted by Eastern Shore watermen during the 2014 campaign in Cambridge, Md., Gov. Larry Hogan pledged to end the longstanding feud between watermen and the state.

“There’s been a war on rural Maryland. There’s been a war on the Eastern Shore. There’s been an outright assault on watermen and farmers, but it’s going to end…,” Hogan said at a September 2014 fundraiser in Cambridge during his gubernatorial campaign.

And Hogan’s administration has increasingly brought watermen into oyster restoration discussions—a collaboration many hope continues, with many of them sitting on advisory councils and with them, bringing not only long years working the water but long records of poaching and violations of every conceivable regulation designed to protect the resources of the Chesapeake from the pirate poachers.

In the same year that the President of the Talbot County Watermen’s Association was caught poaching, he was meeting with Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford for the purpose of halting an oyster replenishment program.

The watermen were successful in getting the Hogan Administration to halt the program while many outlaw watermen have been busy raiding the same sanctuary.  See the following excerpt from an article which describes the buckling of the Hogan administration to pressure from a special interest who benefits from the new Governor moving the dial from the public interest to the interest of those profiting from the resource in the short run and endangering the revival of oysters in the Chesapeake Bay in the long run.

Following the article is the record of poaching of Floyd Wallace “Bunky” Chance Jr.

Watermen seek, win, halt in Tred Avon oyster restoration project

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.

From Bay Journal Jan. 13, 2016

 

Having gained no traction with O’Malley, the watermen hoped Gov. Larry Hogan, the new Republican governor would be more sympathetic. During his campaign, Gov. Hogan had pledged to end the “War on Watermen,” and last summer the Department of Natural Resources agreed to make some changes – after extensive meetings with oyster harvesters – to the way it spread the fossilized shell.

In the fall, a small group of watermen went to the Department of Natural Resources with a comparison of oyster reproduction in Harris Creek, the site of the state’s largest sanctuary reef, and neighboring Broad Creek that suggested to them that the Harris Creek restoration was not working. Broad Creek, which has been open to harvest, had much higher numbers of “spat,” or baby oysters, setting on the reefs. Managers and scientists with the Department declined to stop the project, which had included a long public process to plan and millions of dollars in federal funds.

Governor Larry Hogan and Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford, center.

Governor Larry Hogan and Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford, center.

The watermen then went to Rutherford, who agreed to get the department to request the stoppage.

Two of the watermen who met with Rutherford said they believed the ongoing restoration work in the sanctuaries, which are off-limits to commercial harvest, is a wasteful failure and needs to be overhauled. Rob Newberry, head of the Delmarva Fisheries Association, and Bunky Chance, president of Talbot County watermen’s association, a base that assertion in part on their comparison of the Harris and Broad Creek spat set.

In Harris Creek, which was once open to harvest, the state, and federal partners have built 350 acres of new reefs. Over the past three years, those reefs have been seeded with 2 billion juvenile oysters.  That project cost $26 million in state and federal funds and is the largest restoration project in the world.

Newberry and Chance noted that the state’s annual survey of oyster reproduction, performed by state biologists, shows that an unrestored reef in nearby Broad Creek has more spat set than the rebuilt reefs in Harris Creek. 

Watermen contend that regularly dredging reefs during the harvesting of larger oysters aids the remaining bivalves’ survival by knocking off any buildup of silt that could smother them.  They say that Broad Creek has yielded millions in income for watermen while costing the government nothing to maintain. But DNR’s analysis have shown that this practice, known as power-dredging, does far less to restore oysters than planting new beds with hatchery seed.

The watermen also contend that the Harris Creek Sanctuary is a hotbed of Dermo, a parasitic disease that can kill oysters before they can grow to legally harvestable size. Dermo and another disease, MSX, devastated the bay’s oyster population in the 1960s and again in the 1980s and ‘90s.

“We believe there is a better way to do this,” said Chance, who is also a member of the Maryland Oystermen Association. “We don’t think this is in the best interests of the resource.”

Peyton Robertson, director of the Chesapeake Bay office of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said ecological assessments are just now being conducted on the first batch of oysters planted three years ago on 100 acres of reefs built in Harris Creek.

Though all the data are not in, Robertson said he’s seen no evidence so far to support the watermen’s claims that the restoration is a failure or that it’s a breeding ground for disease.  DNR surveys have found that while Dermo is present in Harris Creek oysters, it’s widespread throughout the Bay. But its intensity Bayside has been low, and likewise mortality.

Spat set is not the sole yardstick for determining the success of the restoration, but rather a “metric” of ecological functions, Robertson said.  When looking at whether an oyster restoration site is successful, scientists look at the density of a reef, the year classes of oysters, the biodiversity the reef attracts and the oysters’ survival rate.   MORE

Floyd Bunky Chance Jr President of Talbot County Watermens Assoc photo Baltimore Magazine

Floyd Bunky Chance Jr President of Talbot County Watermens Assoc photo Baltimore Magazine

Floyd Wallace “Bunky” Chance Jr. – President of Talbot County Watermen’s Association

  • Chance was cited by NRP Officer Brimer on Jan. 20, 2015 with possession of unculled oysters. In a plea deal with Somerset County States Attorney Daniel Powell, Chance entered a guilty plea and was put on Probation Before Judgment on March 10, 2015, with a fine of $132.50 and $75 of the fine suspended.
  • Floyd Wallace “Bunky” Chance Jr. was cited by NRP Officer Tracy Campbell with poaching oysters from a restricted area on March 12, 2007. On May 17, 2007, in a plea deal in Talbot County District Court, Talbot County States Attorney let Chance off with a fine of $42.50 and Probation Before Judgment unsupervised.
  • Floyd Wallace “Bunky” Chance Jr. was cited by NRP Officer Avery with possession of undersized and unculled oysters on Jan. 2, 2003. In Anne Arundel County District Court on March 3, 2003, Chance entered a guilty plea in a deal with the Anne Arundel County States Attorney. The deal netted Chance a fine of $130.
  • Floyd Wallace “Bunky” Chance Jr. was cited by NRP Officer Michael Moore for catching oysters on a Saturday on Dec. 21, 1998. In Talbot County District Court on Feb. 19, 1999, Chance entered into a plea bargain that left him with a $50 fine.
  • Floyd Wallace “Bunky” Chance Jr. was cited by NRP Officer Wayne L. Engel with harvesting oysters on a Saturday on Dec. 21, 1998. In a plea bargain in District Court of Talbot County on Feb. 19, 1999, Chance was left with a $50 fine.
  • Floyd Wallace “Bunky” Chance Jr. was cited by NRP Officer Mark Gadow with exceeding his daily limit of oysters on Oct. 21, 1994. In Talbot County District Court, Talbot County Assistant States Attorney Scott Patterson dropped the charge on March 31, 1995, with no fine.
  • Floyd Wallace “Bunky” Chance Jr. was cited for failing to mark a drift gill net by NRP Officer Robert Alexander on Dec. 13, 1993. In Talbot County District Court, Talbot County the Assistant States Attorney Scott Patterson arranged a plea bargain in which Chance entered a guilty plea and paid a fine of $100. A gill net violation of the same date resulted in a fine of $190.
While the Town Council usually keeps busy with ordinances banning flashing "Open" signs for small businesses, in recent years they have picked up federal funds for relief after Hurricane Sandy and distributed over $1 million to various purposes including to 41 watermen, according Town Council minutes. THE CHESAPEAKE TODAY photo

While the Town Council of Crisfield, Md., usually keeps busy with ordinances banning flashing “Open” signs for small businesses, in recent years they have picked up federal funds for relief after Hurricane Sandy and distributed over $1 million to various purposes including to 41 watermen, according Town Council minutes. THE CHESAPEAKE TODAY photo

Crisfield provided Hurricane relief funds to 41 watermen

From the minutes of the Crisfield City Council Meeting of July 23, 2014:

Mr. Riggin also requested a letter of support to the County Commissioners requesting that they ask DHCD for re-allocation of leftover funds from Hurricane Sandy Round 1 money for Economic Development in Crisfield.

A crabber's workboat heads out from Crisfield, Md. THE CHESAPEAKE TODAY photo

A crabber’s workboat heads out from Crisfield, Md. THE CHESAPEAKE TODAY photo

After a brief discussion, Councilman Emely made a motion to approve a letter to the County Commissioners requesting that DHCD reprogram funds left over from the $8.6 M of Sandy Round one money, for Economic Development for the City of Crisfield.

During the discussion, Councilman Atkins advised that he is for this. Councilman Konapelsky advised that this money is still being used for what it was designated for and there would be a 2 to 3 year wait to re-allocate. He stated the he doesn’t feel there is any point in requesting it at this time.

Mr. Danny Thompson, Director, EDC, noted that 1.2M was used for assisting 41 watermen, 2 facades, 3 business loans, 7 more watermen, 7 loan inquiries, and 2 – 3 loan applications. He also advised that he feels the funds will be used. Mr. Riggin stated that he feels there will be funds left over and that a letter of intent needs to get on record.

At this time, Councilwoman Johnson seconded Councilman Emely’s motion.

Motion carried with abstention from Councilman Konapelsky, due to his position at the County.

Two watermen faced fines of over $400,000; got off with low fines

Bats and Pirate Poachers Come out at Night on ChesapeakeBaltimore County — The Natural Resources Police reported that two watermen were charged Jan. 1, 2014 with overharvesting striped bass on the Patapsco River near Key Bridge.

Terry Alan Myrick, 53, of Baltimore, and John James Messinger, 37, of Middle River, each faces fines in excess of $400,000 and possible license revocations of one to two years on charges they exceeded their daily harvest allotment by 532 pounds.

Officers on patrol on New Year’s Day checked the nets of the two men and determined they were nearing their limit. Another net was in the water nearby.

The officers set up surveillance at the watermen’s boat slip and awaited their return. When the catch was checked a second time, the watermen were over the limit.

The catch was seized and sold at market value.

Both men were charged with exceeding the daily common pool catch limit for striped bass and exceeding the common pool fishery boat limit for striped bass. The maximum fine is $2,500 per fish. The case has been referred to the state’s attorney’s office for additional review and possible charges.

State court records show Myrick has been cited on numerous occasions for natural resources and boating violations over the last decade. Messinger has been cited in the past for crabbing violations.

In District Court for Baltimore County on July 7, 2014, Terry Alan Myrick entered into a plea deal with Baltimore County States Attorney and instead of paying a fine of as much as $2,500 per fish was fined a grand total of $1,700 and received no jail time. He was put on probation, which is unsupervised with the probation ending on July 7, 2015.

Maryland NRP officers sort through illegally caught rockfish

Maryland NRP officers sort through illegally caught rockfish

Lumpkins Sentenced to 18 Months in Federal Prison

WASHINGTON—Sept. 25, 2009 — Robert Lumpkins, owner of Golden Eye Seafood LLC, of St. Mary’s County, Md., was sentenced to 18 months in prison and the company was sentenced today to 3 years’ probation by U.S. District Judge Peter J. Messitte after a two-day sentencing hearing in the District of Maryland, the Justice Department announced.

Additionally, they were sentenced to pay a fine of $36,000 and restitution of $164,040.50 along with a special assessment of $1,600.

Lumpkins and Golden Eye had previously pleaded guilty to conspiring to violate and violating the Lacey Act, by falsely recording the amount and weight of striped bass, also known as rockfish that were harvested by local fishermen and checked-in through Golden Eye from 2003 to 2007.

According to Lumpkins’ plea agreement, from at least 2003 to the present, he was a fish wholesaler, doing business from his residence in Piney Point, Md., under the name Golden Eye Seafood.  Lumpkins, through, Golden Eye, acted as a commercial striped bass check-in station for the state of Maryland.  Lumpkins admitted that on numerous occasions from 2003 to 2007, he falsely recorded the amount of striped bass that fisherman harvested and failed to record some of the striped bass that was caught or recorded a lower weight of striped bass than was actually caught.

Undersized rockfish seized by NRP officers.

Undersized rockfish seized by NRP officers.

Lumpkins and the fishermen would also falsely inflate the actual number of fish harvested.  By under-reporting the weight of fish harvested, and over-reporting the number of fish taken, the records would make it appear that the fishermen had failed to reach the maximum poundage quota for the year, but had nonetheless run out of tags.  As a result, the state would issue additional tags that could be used by the fishermen allowing them to catch striped bass above their maximum poundage quota amount.  Lumpkins and Golden Eye shipped the majority of the fish to purchasers in Maryland and in other states.  Lumpkins also purchased fish that were outside the legal size limit from an undercover agent and sold those fish to purchasers in New York, Virginia, and California.        

“This prison sentence sends a strong message to commercial fishermen and wholesalers on the Chesapeake Bay and Potomac River. Those who illegally harvest rockfish will be investigated, prosecuted and face stiff sentences including the possibility of incarceration,” said John C. Cruden, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division.

image descriptionU.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein stated, “If commercial fishermen obey the rules, we can all enjoy rockfish forever.  If they don’t, the rockfish population could be wiped out very quickly.  This sentence sends a message that we are serious about protecting the rockfish population in the Chesapeake Bay.”     

Joseph Peter Nelson Jr., a commercial fisherman, licensed in Maryland, pleaded guilty to four felony violations of the Lacey Act for participating in a scheme to illegally over harvest and under report the amount of rockfish he took from the Potomac River.  His father, Joseph Peter Nelson Sr., also pleaded guilty to one felony violation of the Lacey Act for assisting in transporting the illegally taken rockfish in interstate commerce.  The Nelsons are scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 22, 2009.  Jerry Decatur, Sr. and Jerry Decatur, Jr. both pleaded guilty to violations of the Lacey Act and are scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 27 and Oct. 28, 2009, respectively.

Additionally, John Evans, a commercial fisherman who operated in St. Mary’s County and the surrounding waters of the Chesapeake Bay, pleaded guilty to a violation of the Lacey Act for overfishing striped bass and was sentenced to three months in prison followed by six months home detention.

Cannon Seafood, a Washington, D.C., fish wholesaler, its owner, Robert Moore Sr. and his son Robert Moore Jr. pleaded guilty to similar charges.  Cannon Seafood was ordered to pay restitution of $28,000 and a fine of $80,000.  Robert Moore Sr. and Robert Moore Jr., were each sentenced to four months home detention, followed by three years’ probation, and were ordered to pay restitution of $15,000 and $10,000, and a fine of $40,000 and $30,000, respectively.

James Phillip Nelson; court orders permanent loss of waterman's license

James Phillip Nelson; court orders permanent loss of waterman’s license

Thomas L. Hallock, a commercial fisherman, licensed in Maryland, was sentenced to a year and a day in prison, for illegally overfishing rockfish and was ordered to pay restitution of $40,000 and a fine of $4,000. Commercial fisherman Thomas Crowder was sentenced to 15 months in prison, ordered to pay a $5,000 fine and restitution of $96,250 and Charles Quade was sentenced to five months in prison, followed by five months of home detention. Quade was also ordered to pay a $1,000 fine and restitution of $5,000. Keith Collins was sentenced to 13 months in prison and was ordered to pay $70,569 in restitution and a fine of $4,500. Kenneth Dent was ordered to pay $2,905 in restitution and was sentenced to 3 years’ probation. Crowder, Quade, Collins and Dent all pleaded guilty to Lacey Act violations for overfishing striped bass. All of the restitution is to be paid to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to the benefit of the Chesapeake Bay Striped Bass Restoration Account.

Poaching Pirates PersistAs a result of the investigation and prosecution, two fish wholesalers and a total of 15 individuals, including today’s defendants, have been convicted of illegally harvesting and underreporting their catch of striped bass.

These cases resulted from an investigation by an interstate task force formed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Maryland Natural Resources Police and the Virginia Marine Police, Special Investigative Unit in 2003. The task force conducted undercover purchases and sales of striped bass in 2003, engaged in covert observation of commercial fishing operations in the Chesapeake Bay and Potomac River area, and conducted a detailed analysis of area striped bass catch reporting and commercial business sales records from 2003 through 2007.

John Evans Pleaded Guilty in Rockfish Scheme with Golden Eye

On June 16, 2009, commercial fisherman John Evans pleaded guilty to a felony Lacey Act violation for false labeling of striped bass.

Between October 2003 and November 2007, Evans, with the assistance of a Maryland designated fish check-in station employee, falsely recorded the amount of striped bass that he harvested. Within each year, he failed to record some of the striped bass that was caught or recorded a lower weight of striped bass than was actually caught. Evans and the check-in station operator also would falsely inflate the actual number of fish harvested.

Pirate Poacher Kings of the BayBy under-reporting the weight of fish harvested and over-reporting the number of fish taken, the records would make it appear that the defendants had failed to reach the maximum poundage quota for the year, but had nonetheless run out of tags.

As a result, the state would issue additional tags that could be used by the defendant allowing him to catch striped bass above his maximum poundage quota amount. The fair market retail value of this fish was $23,400.

This investigation was conducted by an interstate task force formed by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, the Maryland Natural Resources Police, and the Virginia Marine Police Special Investigative Unit.

 

 

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