Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Commercial Fishermen Guilty of Mass Striped Bass Poaching

Two watermen plead guilty in striped bass poaching case
A fish poaching case that began in February 2011 with a discovery of mysterious, illegally set nets full of tens of thousands of pounds of striped bass off Kent Island is finally coming to a close.
I covered the story extensively at the time the nets were found loaded with dead fish. e.g. 
Two Tilghman Island watermen pleaded guilty Friday in U.S. District Court to illegally taking 185,925 pounds of striped bass from the Chesapeake Bay.

Michael D. Hayden, 41, and William J. Lednum, 42, admitted to selling the striped bass for $498,293 through a ring they operated between 2007 and 2011, according to court documents.

They employed numerous schemes to fish illegally, including casting nets overnight and fishing after the season was closed, according to the plea agreement. They also pleaded guilty to fishing beyond their vessel limits and recruiting others to report their fish for them. They sold the fish to wholesalers in New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland.
And how much do you want to be that the actual amount of Striped Bass they poached over a lifetime dwarfed the amount they were taken to court for.  It took a while to build up a covert scheme to take, and market the illegal fish.
The case began when the Maryland Department of Natural Resources found the illegal anchored nets off Kent Island on the eastern side of the Bay Bridge three years ago.
During the investigation, Hayden allegedly threatened to harm witnesses cooperating with the government.

"You rolled on me, [expletive], a man told me so, that's OK, I will take care of your [expletive]," he told one witness, according to court documents.
Oooh, assault and witness tampering, that ought to be good for another few years.
Hayden and Lednum are to pay between $498,293 and $929,625 in restitution to the state plus forfeit 80 percent of the value of the boat "Kristin Marie" they used for their operation. They also each face a $250,000 fine and five years in prison.
Why not 100%?

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