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Press Release

Rockwood Man Sentenced for Federal Tax Evasion and Illegally Dealing Lobsters

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Maine

Contact: Richard Murphy
Assistant United States Attorney
Tel: (207) 780-3257

Portland, Maine: United States Attorney Thomas E. Delahanty II announced that Robert Thompson, 53, of Rockwood, Maine, was sentenced yesterday in U.S. District Court by Judge D. Brock Hornby to 8 months imprisonment for evading federal income tax and for illegal sales of lobsters.  The Court also ordered Thompson to pay the Internal Revenue Service restitution of $65,172.

Court records reveal that while Thompson was the dock manager for the Spruce Head Fishermen's Cooperative, he and some Co-op members struck an arrangement under which Thompson would buy some of their catch directly from the lobstermen, bypassing the Co-op and paying them in cash. Thompson then sold these lobsters to J.P.'s Shellfish Company of Eliot, Maine for cash, even though Thompson did not hold a License to buy and sell lobsters as required by the State of Maine.

Thompson pled guilty back in December of 2014 to one count of evading payment of federal income tax on those cash sales for the year 2008, although he agreed as part of his plea to payment of back taxes relating to the years 2009-2011 also. In addition he pled guilty to violating the so-called Lacey Act, a federal law that makes it a crime to purchase or sell wildlife, which includes lobsters, in a manner that violates a state law. A consequence of these illegal sales was that the lobsters at issue were not properly reported to regulatory authorities who monitor the State's fisheries. John Price, owner of J.P.'s, pled guilty and was sentenced in 2014 for violating the Lacey Act and illegally structuring cash transactions.

"Tax evasion is not a victimless crime", IRS Special Agent in Charge William Offord said following the sentencing. "We all pay when others swindle the government". Eileen Sobeck, Assistant Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration-Fisheries, added "[T]his sentence should serve as a reminder that proper reporting is vital to the sustainability of our Nation's living marine resources. Violations like this are a high priority for our agency".

The charges were the result of a collaborative investigation conducted by the Knox County District Attorney’s Office, the IRS, NOAA-Office of Law Enforcement, and the Knox County Sheriff's Office.

Updated April 20, 2015