Md. wholesaler busted for Lacey Act violations
Golden Eye Seafood and its owner, Robert Lumpkins of Maryland, are the latest in a string of wholesalers and fishermen to plead guilty to conspiracy to and violating the Lacey Act.
Lumpkins admitted on Thursday to falsely recording the amount of striped bass harvested by local fishermen and checked-in through Golden Eye from 2003 to 2007.
According to his plea agreement, from at least 2003 to now, Lumpkins operated as a fish wholesaler from his residence in Piney Point, Md., under the company name Golden Eye Seafood. Through his company, Lumpkins acted as a commercial striped bass, or rockfish, check-in station for the state. He admitted to falsely recording the amount of striped bass that fishermen harvested and failing to record some of the striped bass harvested. Along with the fishermen, Lumpkins also falsely inflated the actual number of fish harvested.
By under reporting the weight of fish harvested and over reporting the number of fish taken it would appear that the fishermen had failed to reach the maximum poundage quota for the year but had run out of tags, causing the state to issue additional tags allowing fishermen to catch striped bass above the quota.
Golden Eye faces fines of up to USD 500,000 (EUR 357,000) on each of three counts, while Lumpkins faces penalties of up to five years in prison and a USD 250,000 (EUR 179,000) fine on each of the four counts to which he pleaded guilty.
As a result of the investigation and prosecution, two fish wholesalers and a total of 15 individuals have been charged for illegally harvesting and underreporting striped bass. Eleven individuals and two wholesale companies have pleaded guilty. Those convicted have been ordered to pay fines and restitution, which will go to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to the benefit of the Chesapeake Bay Striped Bass Restoration Account. Several individuals were also sentenced to prison time.