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Oyster Harvesters Get Jail, Fines for Illegal Haul

(CN) - A family of New Jersey oyster harvesters and dealers received prison sentences and were ordered to pay almost $500,000 in fines for trafficking in illegally possessed oysters.

The three family members and an employee were convicted of multiple felonies related to the overharvesting and sale of oysters in 2012. According to the U.S. Justice Department, Todd, Thomas and Renee Reeves sold over $750,000 worth of Delaware Bay oysters over a four-year period.

In addition, prosecutors, said, Todd and Thomas Reeves, who are brothers, conspired to create false deal reports and records -- including documents prepared for state and federal regulators -- to hide their illicit activities.

The authorities say the oysters were sold to a single retail and wholesale operation, Harbor House Seafood in Delaware.

Todd Reeves was sentenced to 26 months in prison, three years supervised release, and was ordered to pay $140,000 for the restoration of oyster beds on the New Jersey side of Delaware Bay, in addition to a $7,000 fine.

Thomas Reeves was sentenced to 16 months in prison, three years supervised release, and ordered to pay a $7,000 fine, and Renee Reeves was sentenced to five years probation and order to pay a $2,500 fine.

The trio's punishment didn't end there, however. Todd and Thomas Reeves were also order to forfeit $144,000 to substitute assets for the vessels they used to overharvest oysters, and the Reeves' business, Shellrock LLC, doing business as Reeves Brothers, was ordered to pay an additional $70,000 fine.

Meanwhile Kenneth Bailey, was sentenced to six months in jail, six months home confinement and ordered to pay a total of $85,000 in fines and restitution. Authorities say Bailey engaged in activities similar to those of the Reeves in 2006 and 2007, and also submitted falsified documents to hide his activities.

The Lacey Act prohibits creating or submitting false records for fish or wildlife moving in interstate commerce and also prohibits the trafficking of fish or wildlife known to be illegally harvested.

Mark Bryan, of Harbor House Seafood, is scheduled to be sentenced for his role in these activities on February 27 in Camden, N.J.

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