Thursday, December 18, 2014

Chesapeake Poacher Pokey Bound

Chesapeake Bay fisherman sentenced to prison for fish theft
A Tilghman Island fisherman was sentenced to a year and a day in prison, followed by six months of home detention and hefty fines for illegally harvesting and selling tens of thousand of pounds of striped bass from the Chesapeake Bay.

U.S. District Judge Richard D. Bennett ordered William J. Lednum, 41, to pay a $40,000 fine as well as $498,293 in restitution to the State of Maryland, according to a statement from the U.S. Department of Justice. The restitution will be jointly paid by co-defendant Michael D. Hayden. His penalties are a result of violating the Lacey Act, a federal law that protects fish and wildlife, the statement said.

Lednum pleaded guilty to the four-year illegal harvest scheme with Hayden, 43, also of Tilghman Island, in August. The two admitted to running a poaching operation between 2007 and 2011 that involved taking the Bay's striped bass on their boats "Integrity" and "Kristin Marie" beyond legal fishing limits, in oversized nets, at illegal times, and covering everything up with falsified records, according to the statement. They poached at least 185,925 pounds of striped bass that they sold to wholesale operations in New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland for nearly half a million dollars, the Department of Justice said.

The scheme fell apart in February 2011 when the Maryland Department of Natural Resources found tens of thousands of pounds of striped bass in illegal anchored nets before the season had opened.
I reported on this back in 2011 extensively when the nets were first found, and it wasn't clear that anyone would be linked to the crime and held responsible.

It's good to see that, while justice may grind slowly along, it eventually got to a satisfactory fineness.

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