Seafood purveyor jailed in USD 500K scallop scam

A U.S. federal judge in Newark, N.J., sentenced the owner of a Maine seafood wholesaler to 30 months in prison Thursday for his role in hiding nearly 80,000 pounds of Atlantic sea scallops harvested off the coasts of New Jersey and Cape Cod.

Christopher Byers, 42, of Winter Harbor, previously pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiracy to defraud the federal government.

Byers admitted he worked with his company, D.C. Air & Seafood, and six boat operators to prepare false fishing vessel trip reports that concealed the over-harvesting, which occurred in 2007 and 2008 in the Elephant Trunk Access Area.

The fishing ground off the mid-Atlantic coast was at the time open to limited scallop fishing by federally permitted vessels for two-week periods, with a restriction of no more than 400 pounds of scallops per vessel per trip.

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