Kittery Man Sentenced for Structuring and Illegally Purchasing Lobsters
Contact: Julia M. Lipez
Assistant United States Attorney
Tel: (207) 780-3257
Portland, Maine: United States Attorney Thomas E. Delahanty II announced that John
W. Price, 59, of Kittery, Maine, was sentenced yesterday in U.S. District Court by Judge D.
Brock Hornby to 45 days in prison for structuring currency transactions and for illegally
purchasing lobsters. Price was also fined $100,000.
Court records reveal that between 2008 and 2010, Price, the owner of J.P.’s Shellfish, a
seafood distributor in Eliot, Maine, purchased lobsters for cash from a dock employee of the
Spruce Head Fisherman’s Co-op in South Thomaston, Maine. Price directed his employees who
withdrew the cash from the J.P.’s Shellfish business bank account not to withdraw more than
$10,000 in cash at any one time, so as to avoid federal regulations requiring banks to file reports
involving cash transactions of more than $10,000. The dock employee who sold the lobsters to
Price was not a licensed seafood dealer, making the sales illegal under Maine law. Under the
federal Lacey Act, it is illegal to purchase lobsters in violation of state law.
“This scheme to transact enormous amounts of American lobster on the black market
undermines the ability of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and
the State of Maine to sustainably manage this fishery, which is so critical to Maine’s overall
economy,” said NOAA Special Agent in Charge Logan Gregory. “The Office of Law
Enforcement will continue to work with its state and federal partners to expose these schemes
and hold the participants accountable.”
The charges are the result of a collaborative investigation conducted by the Internal
Revenue Service, NOAA, Office of Law Enforcement, and the Knox County Sheriff’s Office.