Boston - Two West Springfield businessmen were convicted of dealing in live freshwater fish without the required Massachusetts state permits.
Paul Zombik, 48, and his father Michael Zombik, 69, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Michael A. Ponsor to importing live bait fish and game fish into Massachusetts in violation of Massachusetts State law and then selling the fish in interstate commerce, all in violation of the federal Lacey Act.
Between October 1, 2005 and February 25, 2009, Michael and Paul Zombik ran Michael’s Wholesale Bait (MWB) in West Springfield. During that time, WMB purchased and sold in interstate commerce millions of dollars of live freshwater bait fish and game fish. Almost all of those transactions were without the necessary Massachusetts state permits. In addition, the Zombik’s imported protected Eastern silvery minnows into Massachusetts from Vermont in violation of the Massachusetts Endangered Species Act. The Zombik’s failure to follow state regulations and the required permit process increased the likelihood that diseases and invasive organisms would be introduced into Massachusetts’ waters and the ecosystems of other states.
Sentencing is scheduled for March 13, 2013. The Zombiks each face up to five years in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine.
United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz; Neil Mendelsohn, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service for the Northeast Region; Richard Sullivan, Secretary in Charge of the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs; and Colonel Aaron Gross, Director of the Massachusetts Environmental Police, made the announcement today.
The case was investigated by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Office of Law Enforcement, the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, the Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs, the Massachusetts Environmental Police and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Bureau of Environmental Crimes Investigation. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin O’Regan of Ortiz’s Springfield Office.
Please contact Meagan Racey, Public Affairs Specialist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Northeast Region at 413-253-8558 with questions.
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