Tilghman Island Watermen Sentenced for Poaching, Community Stand - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Tilghman Island Watermen Sentenced for Poaching, Community Stands In Support

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TILGHMAN ISLAND, Md.- Four years ago this month, several nets were found unattended in the Chesapeake Bay, holding thousands of pounds of illegally caught rockfish. Following the investigation, four watermen on Tilghman Island were charged with poaching 500,000 dollars worth of striped bass. All were found guilty, and on Friday, one of them was sentenced.

Michael Hayden, 43, was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison, followed by six months of home detention. A judge found Hayden obstructed justice during the investigation, which increased his sentence. He has been ordered to pay nearly $500,000 in restitution, as well as a $40,000 fine.

Hayden acknowledged as part of a plea deal that from at least 2007 to 2011 he and co-conspirators illegally harvested 185,925 pounds of striped bass from the Chesapeake Bay.    

Another one of those watermen, William J., also called "Billy" Lednum, is currently serving a year-long federal prison sentence.
    
But on Tilghman Island, the community is still pulling together to support these men despite their crimes.

Everybody on  the island has something to say about the watermen charged with poaching, but that doesn't mean there are many different opinions. Patricia Mcglannan knew Lednum, and said he was a very active member of the community, on top of being fire chief.

"Far more than the fire chief. He was everybody's neighbor, everybody's friend. Definitely a guy who would lend you a hand if you needed it," said Mcglannan.

Carol Lyons said the community has stepped up to help the families of those men.

"Everybody is pitching in to try and help with their families. At this point without knowing what's going to happen with Mikey, it's directed towards Billy.  Making sure that his house is taken care of, people are cutting his grass," said Lyons.

At the Tilghman Island Fire Company, that level of support is very visible. Even though Billy Lednum is currently serving time in prison, the fire company still voted to keep him chief during that time.

Calvin Lewis and Fritz Scharch said they are good guys, and they feel they are being unfairly treated.

"I think the punishment is beyond the crime that they've done in my book. I mean, there's people that do worse, drugs and so forth, that don't do prison time," said Lewis.

"I think they just set these guys up, and let them keep going to try and build up a bunch on them and make an example of them," said Scharch.

While people here know what Lednum and Hayden did was wrong, they all believe these punishments are too severe.

As for Lednum, alongside his year-and-a-day in prison that he is currently serving, he has been ordered to pay $538,000 in fines and restitution for poaching, what amounted to almost 190,000 pounds of rockfish.

Kent Sadler, one of the helpers, is serving 30 days in a local jail on weekends.

Lawrence Murphy is on probation. Sadler and Murphy also face fines and restitution.
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