WASHINGTON – Jeffery S. Adams, 41, of Hudgins, Va., and his corporation Adams Fishing Adventures Inc. pleaded guilty today to trafficking in illegally-harvested striped bass, in violation of the Lacey Act. Among other things, the Lacey Act makes it unlawful for any person to import, export, transport, sell, receive, acquire or purchase any fish and wildlife taken, possessed, transported or sold in violation of any law or regulation of the United States, or to attempt to do so. Under the Lacey Act, it is a “sale” of fish or wildlife for any person, for money or other consideration, to offer or provide guiding, outfitting, or other services.
Ignacia S. Moreno, Assistant Attorney General for the U.S. Department of Justice’s Environment and Natural Resources Division, and Neil H. MacBride, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, made the announcement after the plea was accepted by U.S. District Judge Mark S. Davis.
Adams and Adams Fishing Adventures were indicted on Nov. 8, 2012, by a federal grand jury on charges of conspiracy, Lacey Act violations and false statements. Adams faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, as well as forfeiture of the fishing vessel used during the commission of the crimes. Adams Fishing Adventures Inc. faces a maximum fine of $500,000, as well as forfeiture of the fishing vessels used during the commission of the crimes. Sentencing is set for April 18, 2013.
In a statement of facts filed with his plea agreement, Adams and Adams Fishing Adventures admitted that they sold a charter striped bass fishing trip on Jan. 19, 2010, for $800. As part of that charter fishing trip, Adams knowingly took his charter clients into the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) to harvest striped bass, even though Adams knew that it was a violation of federal law to harvest striped bass inside the EEZ. Adams’ clients illegally harvested 10 striped bass within the EEZ on Jan. 19, 2010, and Adams then transported the illegally harvested striped bass back to Rudee Inlet in Virginia Beach, Va., where the sale of Adams’ charter fishing services was finalized.
This case was investigated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Fisheries, Office for Law Enforcement, and the Virginia Marine Police with assistance from the Federal Communications Commission Enforcement Bureau, Norfolk, Va. Office. Trial Attorney James B. Nelson of the Department of Justice’s Environmental Crimes Section of the Environment and Natural Resources Division and Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen W. Haynie from the Eastern District of Virginia are prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States.