The investigation in this case started in February 2011 when the Maryland Department of Natural Resources found tens of thousands of pounds of striped bass snagged in illegal, anchored nets before the season officially reopened.
The conspirators were seen on the water in the vicinity of the illegal nets. The subsequent investigation unveiled a wider criminal enterprise to which Hayden and Lednum pleaded guilty on Aug. 1, 2014. Co-defendant Kent Conley Sadler, 31, also of Tilghman Island, previously pleaded guilty to his participation in the conspiracy and is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 21, 2014. Hayden and Lednum face a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The defendants have agreed to pay restitution to the state of Maryland of between $498,293 and $929,625. The defendants have further agreed to forfeit the monetary equivalent of 80 percent of the value of the vessel primarily used during the conspiracy.