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United States v. John H. Cross, III, et al.

Docket Number

On December 21, 2023, a court ordered the final restitution in this case, originally sentenced in April 2019. John H. Cross and his company, John Cross Fisheries, are jointly responsible for paying $1,032,132 to be paid to the National Fish Hatcheries, which stock Lake Michigan with lake trout. The court previously sentenced Cross to 12 months’ intermittent incarceration, as a condition of a five-year term of probation. The judge wanted Cross to serve the time during the winter months when his business is not operating. The company was sentenced to complete a five-year term of probation to include implementing a compliance plan.

The defendants previously pleaded guilty to violating the Lacey Act for trafficking in illegally caught lake trout and falsely labelling the fish (16 U.S.C. §§ 3372(a)(2)(A), (d)(2), 3373(d)(2), (d)(3)(A)). The company sold more than 48,000 pounds of lake trout that it should have known had been illegally harvested, transported, and sold in violation of Michigan fishery laws.

Between September 2011 and October 2013, Cross and Cross Fisheries repeatedly purchased lake trout from “Fisherman A,” a tribal fisherman who fished from a boat converted to trap net gear at taxpayers’ expense (and thus barred from lawfully harvesting lake trout). Instead, the defendants made and submitted records and accounts of these purchases indicating the seller was a licensed gillnet fisherman (“Fisherman B”) who could legally harvest lake trout.

Between approximately September 2011 and October 2013, the defendants made approximately 42 purchases of lake trout from “Fisherman A,” totaling approximately 48,498 pounds, all of which Cross Fisheries falsely claimed it received from “Fisherman B.”

This case is a result from Operation Fishing for Funds, a two-year U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service undercover operation. The operation investigated the illegal harvest and sale of fish (primarily walleye and trout) taken from the Great Lakes. Agents established an undercover wholesale fish business in Baraga, Michigan, named Upper Peninsula North Fish Company (UPNFC). UPNFC bought and sold fish wholesale and retail across the region.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service conducted the investigation, with assistance from the Michigan and Wisconsin Departments of Natural Resources.

Case Open Date
Case Name
United States v. John H. Cross, III, et al
Case Type
  • Environment
Updated January 26, 2024