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Four Charged in Striped Bass Conspiracy

BALTIMORE (CN) - Federal prosecutors charged four commercial fishermen with illegally harvesting "tens of thousands of pounds of striped bass" from Chesapeake, and filing false documents to sell the fish in interstate commerce.

Michael D. Hayden Jr. and his company, and William J. Lednum, Kent Sadler and Daniel Murphy are accused of a multiyear conspiracy in a 26-count indictment, which includes Lacey Act violations, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.

Hayden also has been criminally charged with witness intimidation, prosecutors said.

After the investigation of these crimes began, it is alleged that Hayden attempted to manipulate some witnesses' testimony while trying to outright prevent the testimony and cooperation of others," prosecutors said in a statement. "In addition, it is alleged that in at least one incident, Hayden threatened to retaliate against another potential witness he believed to be cooperating with investigators."Witness intimidation is punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

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