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Virginia Charter Boat Captains Sentenced For Felony Illegal Harvest Of Striped Bass

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
April 25, 2013

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Jeffery S. Adams, 41, of Hudgins, Va., was sentenced today to 180 days home confinement with electronic monitoring, followed by three years of probation for violating the Lacey Act by trafficking in illegally-harvested striped bass.  Adams’ corporation, Adams Fishing Adventures, Inc., was sentenced to three years of probation.  One of the conditions of their probation is the requirement to acquire and maintain Vessel Monitoring Units on all vessels owned or operated by them.

David Dwayne Scott, 41, of Lusby, Md., was also sentenced today for trafficking in illegally-harvested striped bass, in violation of the Lacey Act.  Scott was sentenced to three years of probation, a $5,600 fine payable to the Lacey Act Reward Account, and ordered to pay $1,900 restitution to NOAA. One of the conditions of his probation is the requirement that he cannot engage in either charter or commercial fishing industry anywhere in the world, in any capacity to include captaining or mating on a vessel or performing any services in support of a charter or commercial fisherman.

Neil H. MacBride, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Logan Gregory, Special Agent in Charge for NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement’s Northeast Division, made the announcement after sentencing by United States District Judge Mark S. Davis.

On January 19, 2013, Adams and Adams Fishing Adventures pled guilty to violation of the Lacey Act in the United States District Court in Norfolk, Va.  The Lacey Act, among other things, makes it unlawful for any person to transport, sell, receive, acquire or purchase any fish or wildlife taken, possessed, transported or sold in violation of any law or regulation of the United States.

According to the plea agreement, Adams and Adams Fishing Adventures, Inc., admitted that they sold a chartered Striped Bass fishing trip on January 19, 2010, for $800.  As part of that trip, Adams knowingly took his charter clients into the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) to harvest striped bass, even though Adams knew that it was a violation of federal law to harvest striped bass inside the EEZ.  Adams’ clients illegally harvested 10 striped bass within the EEZ and Adams transported the illegally harvested striped bass back to Rudee Inlet in Virginia Beach, Va.  According to other documents filed in connection with the sentencing, Adams and Adams Fishing Adventures, Inc., routinely harvested striped bass illegally from within the EEZ from 2007 to 2013.  Since 1990, federal law has made it unlawful to fish, catch, or possess striped bass in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).  The laws were passed in response to a decline in the striped bass populations in the late 1970’s and are designed to protect and preserve striped bass for future generations.

In a statement of facts filed with Scott’s plea agreement, Scott admitted that on February 7, 2009, he took a charter fishing trip into the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) to fish for striped bass and when approached by law enforcement, 19 striped bass were dumped overboard in an attempt to avoid detection by law enforcement.

The cases were investigated by NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement and the Virginia Marine Police with assistance from the Federal Communications Commission Enforcement Bureau, Norfolk Office.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen W. Haynie of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia and Trial Attorney James B. Nelson of the Department of Justice’s Environmental Crimes Section are prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States.

A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia at http://www.justice.gov/usao/vae. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia athttp://www.vaed.uscourts.gov or on https://pcl.uscourts.gov.