St. Mary’s County Watermen Charged with Fraud; Employee and Notary also Charged
A St. Mary’s County waterman has been criminally charged with running a commercial fishing fraud scheme, the Maryland Natural Resources Police reported.
Robert Maurice Lumpkins, 62, of Piney Point, was charged Friday with perjury, false entry in a public record and theft between $10,000 and $100,000 for illegally obtaining the striped bass allocation of an ailing waterman and then allowing an employee to temporarily use the allocation.
The employee, Ryan Marshall Edwards, 28, of Piney Point, and Sharon Lea Hammett, 63, of Leonardtown, the notary used in the allocation transfer, were also charged in the scheme.
Lumpkins last fall permanently transferred to his own tidal fishing license the striped bass allocation of David O’Donnell McKenney, a waterman who was in a bicycle accident Sept. 7 that left him a quadriplegic until his death on Nov. 1, 2015.
Edwards applied for, and received, a temporary transfer of the allocation during that time. Edwards used that allocation to harvest striped bass while McKenney was hospitalized and for several months following his death.
Officers inspecting the permanent and temporary transfer documents noticed McKenney’s signature did not match signatures on older documents, including his will. When confronted with the fact that McKenney could not have signed the permanent transfer documents on Sept. 20 – after his accident – Lumpkins told officers the waterman had signed them earlier in the year when he was well.
This is not Lumpkins first rodeo:
In 2011, Lumpkins pleaded guilty for his role in the largest striped bass poaching ring in the history of the Chesapeake Bay and was sentenced to serve 18 months in federal prison. He also was ordered to pay a fine of $36,000 and make restitution of $165,000.
There's a strong element of criminality running through the Chesapeake waterman community. The law is merely seen as an obstacle and not a safeguard for the resources.
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