St. Michaels Waterman Pleads Guilty to Fish Poaching Case - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

St. Michaels Waterman Pleads Guilty to Fish Poaching Case

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 BALTIMORE, Md. - Another waterman on Maryland's Eastern Shore pleads guilty in a striped bass poaching case. Lawrence "Daniel" Murphy, age 37, of St. Michaels pleaded guilty Friday to attempting to violate the Lacey Act by trafficking in illegally harvested striped bass from the Chesapeake Bay.
 
According to his plea agreement, Murphy was a "helper" on a vessel owned and operated by Tilghman Island watermen Michael Hayden and William Lednum.  Murphy admitted that from 2007 to 2011, Hayden and Lednum, with Murphy's assistance, engaged in a scheme to illegally poach hundreds of thousands of pounds of striped bass from the Chesapeake Bay in violation of Maryland regulations relating to harvest method, amounts, tagging, and reporting.  Murphy admitted to being on one of these vessels on the morning of February 1, 2011, when he and his co-conspirators were caught by law enforcement attempting to retrieve striped bass caught before the season opened and by using illegally weighted and/or anchored gill nets left in the water overnight.
 
According to court records, Murphy knew that Hayden and Lednum shipped and sold the illegally harvested striped bass to wholesalers in New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland.  

Authorities say the investigation in this case started in February 2011 when the Maryland Department of Natural Resources found tens of thousands of pounds of striped bass snagged in illegal, anchored nets before the season officially reopened.  The conspirators were seen on the water in the vicinity of the illegal nets. The subsequent investigation unveiled a wider criminal enterprise.

Murphy faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The sentencing date for Murphy has been scheduled for December 19.

Authorities say Michael D. Hayden, 42, and William J. Lednum, 41, both of Tilghman Island, Maryland, previously pleaded guilty to their roles in the scheme and are scheduled to be sentenced on November 4 and 5 respectively.  Another helper employed by Hayden and Lednum, co-defendant Kent Conley Sadler, 31, also of Tilghman Island, previously pleaded guilty to his participation in the conspiracy and is scheduled to be sentenced on October 21.

The striped bass, also known as the rockfish, is Maryland's official state fish and most important commercial and recreational fish species.

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