FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Tuesday - SEPTEMBER 13, 2005
COMMERCIAL FISHERMAN SENTENCED TO 18 MONTHS IN PRISON FOR ILLEGALLY CATCHING AND SELLING FISH
RALEIGH, NC - Four men who had pled guilty to felony violations for illegally selling fish unlawfully caught in North Carolina, were sentenced on September 8, 2005, in Federal District Court in Raleigh. According to the indictment, which was returned by a Federal Grand Jury on January 5, 2005, the defendants, JONATHAN MIDGETT, RICHARD MOORE, CHAS ROWE, MATTHEW HUTH, and DANIEL DAVIS, were commercial fishermen in 2000 through 2001 in and around Manteo, N. C. The defendants landed their catch of striped bass, red drum, and tuna in North Carolina without properly reporting it as required by North Carolina law, usually because their catch included fish that were out of season, undersized, or over the legal limits. North Carolina prohibits fishing for certain species such as striped bass and red drum during certain times of the year; requires that the fish be a certain size before they may be kept; and restricts the numbers of fish an individual may catch and sell. In addition, reporting commercial catch assists the state in its efforts to manage and regulate its fish resources. After catching the fish, the defendants would transport and sell it in Virginia, in violation of the Lacey Act, which prohibits the interstate transport or sale of fish that are illicit.
JONATHAN MIDGETT was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment and 3 years supervised release on four felony Lacy Act violations for his catch and sale of over 1,900 pounds of striped bass, 340 pounds of red drum, and 450 pounds of tuna from June 13, 2000, through October 12, 2000. Midgett also forfeited to the Government $4,643 in illegal proceeds. RICHARD MOORE was sentenced to 8 months imprisonment, four of which will be served in federal prison facility, four of which will be served in home detention with electronic monitoring, and 3 years supervised release, on three felony Lacy Act counts for his illegal catch and sale of over 900 pounds of striped bass from February 12, 2000, through February 26, 2000. CHAS ROWE was sentenced to 4 months home detention, 100 hours of community service, and 2 years supervised release for two felony Lacey Act counts concerning his involvement with the catch and sale of over 1200 pounds of striped bass and 250 pounds of red drum in September of 2000. Rowe forfeited to the Government $1,096 in illegal proceeds MATTHEW HUTH was sentenced to 1 year probation, 50 hours of community service, and forfeit $1,400 in illegal proceeds for one misdemeanor Lacey Act violation concerning his role in the sale of over 450 pounds of tuna in June 2000. One defendant, DANIEL DAVIS, awaits sentencing on two felony Lacey Act violations for the sale of over 550 pounds of striped bass and 600 pounds of red drum in late 2000.
Commenting on the convictions, Frank D. Whitney, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina, said, "These sentences demonstrate that poachers who harvest fish out of season and over legal limits will be punished so that we can continue to protect North Carolina’s fishing industry.”
The investigation was conducted jointly by the NOAA Fisheries Office of Law Enforcement, the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Virginia Marine Police Special Investigative Unit. The case was prosecuted by the U. S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina and the Environmental Crimes Section of the U. S. Department of Justice.
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