Friday, September 11, 2015

Fisherman Sentenced in Poaching Ring

Commercial fisherman Bi Chao Chen will serve one month in jail after pleading guilty to charges related to an illegal fishing operation in a section of the Elizabeth River known as The Cove.

Chen, of Norfolk, was issued fines totaling nearly $6,000 and received one year in jail with all but a month suspended.

"It was the longest sentencing hearing for misdemeanors I've ever been involved in," Chen's lawyer, Eric Korslund, said Wednesday.

Chen's commercial and recreational fishing licenses were suspended for three years, and authorities have confiscated his boat and fishing equipment.

Korslund said he doubts Chen will appeal.

In a series of stings in February, Chen and Yuanjie Lin of Chesapeake were caught with nearly 3,200 pounds of trout and juvenile red drum known as puppy drum.

Lin was convicted in April and sentenced to fines of nearly $3,000 and 100 hours of community service. He lost his recreational fishing license for four years.

Law enforcement officers involved in the sting say justice was served.
Going back to the original report, we can see that initially there was talk of several felonies:
 Both Yuan Li of Chesapeake and Bi Chen of Norfolk have been charged with several Class 1 misdemeanors and there are several felony charges still pending, according to Thompson. The men will likely face jail time and fines, but how much was not clear on Saturday.
. . .
"They're claiming it was for recreational use to celebrate the Chinese New Year, but they've got to have a market they've been selling to," Thompson said, citing the size of the haul from just Friday night — hundreds of fish weighing around 3,000 pounds, orders of magnitude above the legal weight limit for catching the fish.
I would guess the prosecution of those felonies has been postponed and threat of their being revived is part of the settlement. Otherwise, this sentence seems kind of light.

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