(CN) - A Maryland fisherman was sentenced to a year and a half in prison for participation in the illegal harvesting of more than 185,000 pounds of striped bass.
In addition, U.S. District Judge Richard Bennett sentenced Michael Hayden, of Tilghman Island, Md., to six months home detention once he completes his prison sentence, and ordered the fisherman to pay nearly $500,000 in restitution and a $40,000 fine.
According prosecutors, Hayden, a fishing vessel captain, pleaded guilty to illegally harvesting striped bass from at least 2007 to 2011, with co-defendants William Lednum, Kent Conley Sadler, and Lawrence "Daniel" Murphy.
In his plea, Hayden said he and his co-conspirators illegally harvested at least 185,925 pounds of striped bass from the Chesapeake Bay in violation of Maryland regulations relating to harvest method, amounts, tagging and reporting.
To conceal their crimes, prosecutors said, Hayden and his co-conspirators falsified paperwork submitted to the state of Maryland relating to their harvests. They then shipped and sold the illegally harvested striped bass to wholesalers in Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania and Delaware who paid them a total of $498,293.
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.
Prosecutors said the conspirators were seen on the water in the vicinity of the illegal nets, and a subsequent investigation revealed the wider criminal enterprise.
Co-defendants Lednum, Murphy, and Sadler previously pleaded guilty to their participation in the conspiracy. Lednum was sentenced to a year and a day in prison and ordered to pay a $40,000 fine and restitution of $489,293; Murphy was sentenced to three years' probation and ordered to pay a $10,000 fine and $30,000 in restitution; and Sadler was sentenced to 30 days in prison to be served on the weekends from Jan. 30, 2015 to May 17, 2015. Sadler was also ordered to pay a $5,000 fine and $20,000 in restitution.
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