Pompano Beach Resident Pleads Guilty and is Sentenced for Illegally Trafficking in Marine Life
Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Tracy Dunn, Special Agent in Charge, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Office of Law Enforcement, announce that Eric Burman, 60, of Boca Raton, pled guilty and was sentenced today by Senior U.S. District Court Judge James Lawrence King to a term of three years of probation. Burman was also ordered to pay a fine of $250,000, the fine to be transferred upon receipt to the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act Fund administered by the Department of Commerce, National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, pursuant to the authority of Title 16, United States Code, Section 1861(e).
Burman was charged with a one count information with conspiracy to violate the federal Lacey Act, by transporting, selling, receiving, acquiring, and purchasing wildlife, that is Florida spiny lobster (Panulirus argus) with a fair market value in excess of $350.00, knowing that said wildlife was taken, possessed, transported, and sold in foreign commerce, in violation of the laws and regulations of the State of Florida, all in violation of Title 16, United States Code, Sections 3372(a)(2)(A), 3373(d)(1) and (2).
According to statements in court, and the court pleadings, at the relevant times, Burman was President and the sole Director of a Florida corporation with its principal place of business in Pompano Beach. Burman, through the business entity, was engaged in the wholesale commercial seafood industry, including the export of live Florida spiny lobster to the seafood market in China.
Burman admitted that during August and September 2010, he and a co-conspirator purchased spiny lobster from harvesters in Monroe County without creating and providing to the harvesters and the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission, trip tickets reflecting the transactions. Thereafter, a co-conspirator of Burman’s caused the lobster to be transported to the corporate business premises in Pompano Beach for packing and shipping in foreign commerce. Burman agreed to allow the co-conspirator to package, mark, and ship the spiny lobster under the corporate entity’s name and through the corporation’s shipping agent. The lobster was ultimately transported from the business in Pompano Beach to a commercial airfreight carrier at Miami International Airport and exported to Hong Kong, China. The charges included a series of “overt acts”, describing multiple instances when specific shipments of spiny lobster were made to China by air freight, and the unlicensed and undocumented purchase of spiny lobsters in the Florida Keys.
Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts NOAA Office of Law Enforcement and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, Islamorada Field Office. This matter is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Thomas Watts-FitzGerald and Antonia Barnes.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.