Md. wholesaler sentenced in fraud case
A Maryland seafood wholesaler who in June pleaded guilty to Lacey Act violations was sentenced on Monday.
Golden Eye Seafood owner Robert Lumpkins was sentenced to 18 months in prison, and the company was sentenced three years probation after a two-day hearing. In addition, they were ordered to pay a fine of USD 36,000 (EUR 24,577) and restitution of USD 164,040.50 (EUR 111,990.45), along with a special assessment of USD 16,000 (EUR 10,923).
According to his plea agreement, from at least 2003 to 2009, Lumpkins operated as a fish wholesaler from his residence in Piney Point, Md., under the Golden Eye Seafood. Through his company, Lumpkins acted as a commercial striped bass, or rockfish, check-in station for the state of Maryland.
In June, 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.
“This prison sentence sends a strong message to commercial fishermen and wholesales on the Chesapeake Bay and Potomac River,” said John Cruden, acting assistant attorney general for the U.S. Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “Those who illegally harvest rockfish will be investigated, prosecuted and face stiff sentences including the possibility of incarceration.”