PIRATE POACHERS OF THE CHESAPEAKE Cops nab outlaw watermen Wheatley father and son duo poachers raiding oyster sanctuary – not the first rodeo for Pop

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OUTLAW PIRATE POACHERS OF THE CHESAPEAKE Cops nab outlaw watermen Wheatley father and son duo poachers raiding oyster sanctuary – not the first rodeo for Pop

DEAL ISLAND, MD. – While the vast majority of Chesapeake Bay watermen are law-abiding and work hard to understand and be in compliance with the myriad set of rules set down by Bay regulators, there are others who just don’t give a damn. According to the NRP, these watermen allegedly are among the latter, especially the father who has a long line of poaching convictions with which he can add notches to his boat and boast about in the tavern.

 Maryland Natural Resource Police report that officers using radar, patrol boats and Natural One, the department’s helicopter, caught and arrested two Somerset County watermen Thursday for taking oysters from a state sanctuary.

David Thomas Wheatley Sr., 53, of 26875 Fitzgerald Road, Princess Anne, Md., and David Thomas Wheatley II, 30, of Deal Island, were each charged by NRP Officer Bromley with one count of illegally harvesting oysters more than 250 feet inside the Manokin River Oyster Sanctuary.

State Police assist NRP oyster police in catching outlaw watermen raiding oyster sanctuaries on the Eastern Shore.

Officers on surveillance pinpointed a vessel inside the sanctuary using the Maritime Law Enforcement Information Network, a system of cameras and radar along the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. Natural One’s police observer was able to confirm that the Jennifer Lynn II with three men aboard was actively power dredging and that orange baskets filled with oysters were on the deck.

A patrol boat intercepted the Jennifer Lynn II as it was returning to the dock.

The two men are scheduled to appear in Somerset County District Court March 13. If found guilty, they face a maximum fine of $3,000 each.

The elder Wheatley entered a guilty plea in Somerset County District Court on Jan. 1, 2016 to possession of more than 6 percent of unculled oysters and was fined $132.50. He was cited by Officer Brimer of the NRP on Nov. 9, 2015.

  • David Wheatley Sr. was fined $72.50 on March 10, 2014, for failing to remove bank traps at the end of the season.
  • David Wheatley Sr. was fined $527.50 for failing to tag oysters on May 14, 2013, in Somerset County District Court.
  • David Wheatley Sr. was fined $132.50 for possession of unculled oysters more than 9 percent of a bushel in Somerset District Court on March 11, 2013.
  • David Wheatley Sr. was fined $277.50 for possession of undersized oysters in Somerset District Court on Dec. 11, 2012.
  • David Wheatley Sr. was fined $450.00 for poaching oysters in a sanctuary on March 13, 2012. Wheatley was cited by NRP Officer Tyler on Jan. 20, 2012.
  • David Wheatley Sr. was fined $277 on Feb. 13, 2012, when he entered a guilty plea to possession of unculled oysters in Somerset District Court.


NEWBURG, MD. — NRP reports that three watermen were charged this week in connection with illegal oyster activity in the Potomac River.

Bartlett Wade Murphy Jr., 43, of McDaniel, was charged under Potomac River Fisheries Commission regulations with exceeding the daily catch limit by eight bushels.

Christian Carroll Murphy 32, of St. Michaels, was charged under commission regulations with using an oyster tonging license belonging to someone else and giving false information to an officer about his identity.

Later Dec. 18, officers on patrol saw a commercial fishing vessel tied up at Aqualand Marina in Newburg with 16 bushels on the dock, a quantity that requires two Potomac River Fisheries Commission licensees to be present.

Bartlett Murphy handed officers two licenses, one in his own name and a second one bearing a different name. Christian Murphy gave officers a name and other personal information that did not match the second license.

Bartlett Murphy acknowledged that he gave Christian Murphy the second license so that he could work that day. Bartlett Murphy is permanently banned from any commercial fishing in Maryland because of previous offenses, but the state and the Potomac River Fisheries Commission does not have reciprocity for suspensions and revocations.

Officers returned the oysters to the Potomac River. A hearing date has not been set in Charles County District Court. Each offense carries a maximum fine of $500.


Nelson and Sons Seafood Facebook profile photo

In a separate incident, Andrew Phillip Nelson, 22, of Hollywood, was charged under commission regulations with commercial oystering without a license and hand tonging without a license.

Nelson was seen hand tonging oysters on the Pascahanna Oyster Bar by officers on surveillance. Nelson was barred from purchasing a Potomac River license this season after he failed to file catch reports. However, he is permitted to measure and assist in unloading a catch.

Nelson, along with his mother, Melanie Wheeler and his father, J. P. Nelson, is permanently banned from commercially harvesting oysters in Maryland because of previous offenses, but the state and the Potomac River Fisheries Commission does not have reciprocity for suspensions and revocations. Andrew was barred for life by a District Court Judge on Aug. 4, 2016.

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

Nelson is scheduled for a hearing in Charles County District Court March 21. If found guilty, Nelson could be fined as much as $1,000. If Maryland officials really were serious about keeping track of Nelson they would permanently attach a GPS ankle bracelet to him.


CAMBRIDGE, MD. – Police report that no turkeys were hurt in this incident, but one hunter suffered minor injuries on Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018.   The fowl deed took place in Worcester County, Maryland, when he was shot by a companion who mistook him for a turkey.

James Henry Gilbert, 67, was treated at Dorchester General Hospital for shotgun pellet wounds to his head, legs, and hand and then released.


WHALLEYVILLE, MD. – They should stick with this story and not talk about what was in their coffee thermos to explain why a grown man would believe his hunting companion was a turkey. Drinking Wild Turkey or hunting for wild turkeys?

Gilbert and Dennis Eugene Yoder, 66, of Parkton, were hunting on leased Chesapeake Forest Land near Bell Road in Whalleyville. Police say that as was their practice, the two men split up. They ended up setting up to hunt within 50 yards of each other, with the line of sight obstructed by several small trees and brush.

Yoder saw movement, thought he saw the red and white coloring of a turkey and fired his 12-gauge shotgun. Gilbert yelled that he was hit. Yoder drove him to the hospital.

The case is under review by the Worcester County State’s Attorney for possible charges after checking the blood test taken at the hospital for additives.

Illegally caught rockfish


CHURCHTON, MD. The Natural Resources Police report that an Anne Arundel County commercial seafood establishment was charged Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2018, with offering untagged striped bass for sale.

Anthony Alphonso Jones, 35, of Churchton, received a citation for possession of 34 untagged fillets that were individually bagged for sale at a freezer in Bob Evan Seafood on Muddy Creek Road.

Jones told officers conducting a routine inspection that he caught the striped bass in a pound net near Point Lookout. However, he did not have tags for the fillets, as required by state law.

A hearing date has not been set by Anne Arundel County District Court. If found guilty, Jones could be fined as much as $1,000. The fish were seized by officers and donated to the Maryland Park Service Scales & Tales program.


An Aberdeen man is scheduled to appear in Harford County District Court Feb. 21, 2018, on a charge that he had a taxidermized hawksbill sea turtle – a protected species – for sale.

Ronald Luther Quillen, 52, offered the turtle as part of an estate sale and was asking $150 for it. The for-sale notice on an internet site attracted the attention of the National Marine Fisheries Service, which requested an investigation.

Hawksbill sea turtles, which are native Maryland reptiles, are protected by federal and state law. Possession of them in any form is illegal without a scientific collecting permit. The state does not permit them to be sold.

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