KEYS COMMERCIAL LOBSTER BUYER ENTERS GUILTY PLEA IN LOBSTER HARVESTING CONSPIRACY
Wifredo A, Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Otha Easley, Acting Special Agent in Charge, NOAA Fisheries Office of Law Enforcement, Southeast Division, announced that Scott A. Greager, 48, of Stock Island, Florida, pled guilty today in federal District Court in Key West for having conspired to receive, purchase, sell, and transport quantities of lobster for distribution in interstate commerce, without complying with Florida law regarding commercial harvest requirements, licensing provisions, and bag and trip limits essential to the lawful harvest, possession, and sale of saltwater products, in violation of the Lacey Act, all in violation of the federal conspiracy statute, Title 18, United States Code, Section 371.
U.S. District Judge Jose E. Martinez accepted Greager’s plea to the conspiracy charge and scheduled sentencing for January 3, 2012 at 1:30 pm. At sentencing, Greager faces a possible maximum sentence of up to five years in prison. Trial of the co-conspirators is currently set to begin on January 3, 2012 in the Sidney M. Aronovitz Federal Court House in Key West.
According to court records, a Joint Factual Statement filed by the parties, and statements made during today’s hearing, from as early as May 28, 2007 through March 2009, Scott Greager was the sole Director, officer, Registered Agent, and owner of Holiday Seafood Key West (Holiday Seafood), a Florida corporation with its principal business address on Tamarind Drive in Key West. Using a Florida Wholesale Dealer’s License issued in the name of Conch Republic Seafood Company, Greager knowingly made numerous purchases of spiny lobster from his co-conspirators, for multiple harvesting trips on the same dates, involving the harvest, possession, and sale of lobster in excess of the legal daily limit of 250. Greager also admitted that he made payments from an account in the name of Holiday Seafood to the co-conspirators for lobster they harvested, and attempted to conceal the illegal activity from the State of Florida by issuing required trip tickets in the name of another individual. To further limit the likelihood of detection by the authorities, the co-conspirators regularly landed lobster attributed to two different vessels, although both were owned and operated by the co-conspirators.
According to the Joint Factual Statement agreed to by defendant Greager, on seven separate occasions in August 2008, the co-conspirators made sales to Greager of spiny lobster harvested on the same day using the See Vee and T-Craft owned by one of the co-conspirators. Those seven days of multiple transactions represented more than 5,000 pounds of lobster with a wholesale value of almost $40,000.
During the relevant period, Florida Statutes and the Florida Administrative Code set strict requirements for commercial harvest limits on Florida spiny lobster. Florida law also required certain licenses and endorsements for a seafood product harvester to lawfully operate in the State. Wholesale dealers, such as Greager and his business, Holiday Seafood Key West, were prohibited from purchasing lobster without first confirming that the seller possessed all required licenses and endorsements, and thereafter making truthful and accurate reports of the transactions to the State.
Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the NOAA Office for Law Enforcement. The criminal case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Watts-FitzGerald.
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.