Gretna commercial fishing guide pleads guilty to federal felony violation of the Lacey Act
BLAKE A. MITCHELL, age 26, a resident of Gretna, Louisiana, and owner/operator of “Louisiana Bowfishing, Inc.,” pleaded guilty today before U. S. District Court Judge Nannette Jolivette Brown to providing a commercial fishing/guiding service in violation of federal law, announced U. S. Attorney Jim Letten.
According to court documents, MITCHELL owned “Louisiana Bowfishing, Inc.,” a fishing, hunting, and guiding service based out of Gretna, Louisiana. In January 2010, MITCHELL arranged to take several men from Tennessee on a combined duck hunt and bowfishing trip in Plaquemines Parish. During the two-day trip, MITCHELL captained an airboat with the men aboard, and he provided them with the necessary equipment to hunt and instructed them on where to stand and how to operate the equipment. During the hunt, MITCHELL took the men on multiple bowfishing trips each day and encouraged them to exceed the legal limit of five (5) redfish per person. MITCHELL himself took twenty (20) redfish over the two days. Between hunts, MITCHELL returned the airboat to the boat launch, put the fish in an ice chest, and hid them in an obscure location next to a nearby convenience store. MITCHELL was paid $1850 for the entire hunt.
MITCHELL faces a maximum term of imprisonment of five (5) years, followed by up to three (3) years of supervised release, and a $250,000 fine. As part of his plea agreement, MITCHELL has also agreed to forfeit to the Government the airboat he used to commit the crime. Sentencing has been scheduled for February 16, 2012, at 10:00 am.
The case was investigated by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jordan Ginsberg.
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