Local Fisherman Pleads Guilty To Illegal Sale Of Red Snapper And Grouper
The United States Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama, Kenyen R. Brown, announces that Natalie McArdle of Foley, Alabama, pleaded guilty today to charges of violating the Lacey Act by transporting and selling Gulf Reef Fish in interstate commerce, knowing that the fish had been landed illegally under Alabama law.
According to the plea agreement, McArdle acted as a broker for commercial fisherman selling unreported red snapper and grouper. On six occasions in 2012 and 2013, McArdle sold or attempted to sell red snapper and grouper that had been landed illegally in Alabama to undercover law enforcement officers posing as employees of a Georgia-based fish and seafood dealer.
The maximum penalty for violating the Lacey Act is up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Pursuant to the plea agreement filed today, the prosecution and the defendant will jointly recommend that McArdle be sentenced to eight months of home detention. A sentencing hearing is set for July 18, 2014.
This case was investigated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Office of Law Enforcement, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and the Alabama Department of Natural Resources, and was prosecuted by Maria E. Murphy of the United States Attorney=s Office for the Southern District of Alabama and Colin L. Black of the Department of Justice’s Environmental Crimes Section.