FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT
AUSA VICKIE E. LEDUC or
MARCIA MURPHY at 410-209-4885
OCTOBER 2, 2007
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CRISFIELD COMPANY OWNER CONVICTED AND SENTENCED IN CONNECTION WITH THE SALE OF ILLEGAL, UNDERSIZED CHESAPEAKE BAY CRABS
Baltimore, Maryland - Isabel Dryden, of Crisfield, Maryland, owner of N.R. Dryden and Company located at 7th Street in Crisfield, pleaded guilty today to selling illegal, undersized Chesapeake Bay crabs, in felony violation of the Lacey Act, announced U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein and Acting Assistant Attorney General Ronald J. Tenpas. The Lacey Act prohibits the interstate sale of fish knowingly taken or possessed in violation of state law.
Following the guilty plea, U.S. District Judge Andre M. Davis sentenced Dryden to pay a $10,000 fine; forfeit the undersized crabs seized on September 7, 2006; allow increased access to her facility by U.S. Fish and Wildlife agents and inspectors from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources Police; and implement training programs with her employees and notice measures with her suppliers, to prevent future violations of the Lacey Act.
“Harvesting undersized crabs prevents the crabs from reproducing and jeopardizes the survival of the species. We must work to preserve the Maryland Blue Crab, which is one of the Chesapeake Bay's best known natural resources,” said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein.
According to the joint factual statement provided to the court, the investigation began when the government received information that crabbers from Tangier Island, Virginia were selling soft shell blue crabs from the Chesapeake Bay to seafood dealers in Crisfield, including N.R. Dryden and Company. Many of these crabs were found to be fewer than 3 ½ inches in length in violation of Maryland state law. Posing as representatives from a business in West Virginia, Special Agents from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and an officer from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources purchased 240 dozen crabs worth approximately $1,500 on three separate occasions in 2005 and 2006 from Ms. Dryden, about 80% of which were undersized. The company warehouse was searched on September 7, 2006 and approximately 648 dozen undersized soft shell crabs labeled as “COCKTAILS” were seized, valued at approximately $3,888. Additionally, records seized during the search showed total sales of about $4,400 worth of undersized “COCKTAIL” crabs in 2005 and 2006.
U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources for their investigative work. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Romano of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland and Trial Attorney David Kehoe, of the Environment and Natural Resources Division, U.S. Department of Justice.