FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 3, 2010
Out-of-State Lake Erie Bass Poachers Pay More Than $16,000
Poachers forfeited two freezers and three bass boats and trailers
SANDUSKY, OH – Three Tennessee men and three Georgia men appeared in Ottawa County Municipal Court in Port Clinton Wednesday for sentencing for taking 141 more than the legal limit of smallmouth bass on Lake Erie last April, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), Division of Wildlife.
“The Western Basin of Lake Erie remains a prime location for anglers from around the country, and wildlife officers are working hard to keep it that way,” said Gino Barna, supervisor of the Division of Wildlife’s Lake Erie Law Enforcement Unit. “The 1-800-POACHER hotline is an important source of information for protecting this valuable natural resource.”
The six men pled guilty to 30 charges on May 3, 2010, and Magistrate Lou Wargo ordered a pre-sentence investigation. The six fishermen appeared in Ottawa County Municipal Court on June 2, 2010 for sentencing. Magistrate Wargo ordered them to pay a combined total of $16,290 in fines, court costs and restitution.
The restitution included $50 for each fish taken illegally in accordance with legislation that places a value on wild animals unlawfully held, taken, bought, sold or possessed. The men were also ordered to forfeit three bass boats, three trailers and two freezers, which have an estimated value of $32,000. Including the forfeited items, the total cost for the six men was $48,290.
A total of 900 days in jail was handed down between all six men. Magistrate Wargo suspended the jail time pending completion of a probationary period of three years of good behavior. Their fishing licenses were revoked for three years and they will be entered into the Wildlife Violator’s Compact and most likely will lose privileges in 33 other states.
During a surveillance project by Division of Wildlife investigators in the Bass Islands area of Lake Erie between April 25 and April 30, investigators observed the men “double and triple tripping.” (“Double and triple tripping” refers to catching a limit of fish, returning to shore, then returning to the water the same day to catch an additional limit of fish.) The legal limit for smallmouth bass on Lake Erie is five fish per day from the last Saturday in June through April 30 with a minimum size limit of 14 inches.
Individual sentencing included:
Freelan C. Leffew, 66, of Soddy Daisy, Tennessee – $1,500 in fines, $348 for court costs, three years license revocation, $1,300 in restitution, and forfeiture of a bass boat, a trailer and a freezer.
Freddie Warren, 63, of Wildwood, Georgia – $1,250 in fines, $290 for court costs, three years license revocation, $1,250 in restitution, and forfeiture of a bass boat and trailer.
Charles H. Burkhart, 67, of Ringgold, Georgia – $1,250 in fines, $290 for court costs, three years license revocation, $1,250 in restitution, and forfeiture of a freezer.
Samuel J. Carroll, 65, of Ringgold, Georgia – $1,000 in fines, $232 for court costs, three years license revocation, $1,000 in restitution, and forfeiture of a bass boat and trailer.
Herbert S. Stephens, 58, of Soddy Daisy, Tennessee – $1,000 in fines, $232 for court costs, three years license revocation, and $1,000 in restitution.
Michael T. Leffew, 38, of Hixon, Tennessee – $1,500 in fines, $348 for court costs, three years license revocation, and $1,250 in restitution.
For more information, contact:
Gino Barna, ODNR Lake Erie Law Enforcement
419. 625. 8062