Re: It's on the front page of the Metro section, today's LA Times.

[ Follow Ups ] [ Post Followup ] [ California Scuba Diving BBS ] [ FAQ ]

Posted by . on August 16, 2002 at 11:18:23:

In Reply to: It's on the front page of the Metro section, today's LA Times. posted by mike on August 16, 2002 at 11:06:35:

Lobster Catch Lands 2 Men in Hot Water
Crime: Officials say undersized crustaceans were snatched from stolen traps in sanctuary.


Authorities are looking for a Navy enlisted man and another man who they say used a military boat to set stolen traps to catch undersized lobsters in a federal marine sanctuary near San Clemente Island.The men allegedly chopped up garibaldi, a protected species and the official state marine fish, and used the pieces as bait.
The men also allegedly ripped the tails off as many as 70 live lobsters caught near the island in order to freeze the tails for later use. Authorities said that, because the men had kept only the tails, it was difficult to determine the actual size of some of the lobsters.The men were initially taken into custody by members of the Navy Shore Patrol, who spotted them through binoculars in an area used by the Navy's elite unconventional warfare unit, the SEALS.The case has been brewing for about two years, but bench warrants have just been issued for the arrests of Michael Lee Brydge and Timothy Norris, both of whom were Navy petty officers in late 2000, when the incidents allegedly occurred.At the time, according to their defense attorney, the men were "engaged in underwater work at a secret level requiring frequent and unpredictable travel around the world."Brydge is still an active Navy petty officer, said San Diego attorney William McGuigan, who is representing both men in the matter. Norris was a chief petty officer when he resigned from the military less than a year ago.On Thursday, Los Angeles County Deputy Dist. Atty. Christopher Frisco was weighing strategies for resolving the case, which has languished in legal delays related to national security concerns and the ongoing war on terrorism."This isn't your standard garden-variety criminal case here," Frisco said. "We're dealing with two Navy men who apparently felt they were above the law and free to use stolen traps to plunder the treasures of the sea."McGuigan disagreed, up to a point.To hear him tell it, the men were working in a restricted military area when they came upon some lobster traps at the island 70 miles northwest of San Diego.Following proper Navy procedures, the men pulled the traps out of the water with plans to warn the owners that the area was off-limits to commercial fishing.McGuigan does not deny, however, that they then broke the law by stealing the lobsters inside those traps.In pretrial meetings, McGuigan said his clients had offered to settle the case by pleading guilty to having taken the lobsters and using garibaldi as bait."But my clients did not receive stolen property of any kind," McGuigan said.Frisco turned them down."This is not a case of mere theft," Frisco said. "Stealing a commercial fisherman's lobster traps is larceny of a man's livelihood."The case was initially scheduled to go to trial in September 2000."But the defense attorney got it continued on grounds the men had to fight for their country," Frisco said. "Then trial was set for last April. But their attorney said one of the defendants had severed his Achilles [tendon] and needed three months to recover."If and when the case returns to court, the men are facing misdemeanor charges, including possession of protected fish, trapping lobsters without an appropriate license, receiving stolen property, possession of marine game whose size could not be determined and possession of undersized lobsters."They are facing a severe fine," Frisco said. "And if they are convicted, I'll also be seeking jail time."Douglas Stutz, spokesman for the Navy Region Southwest, which is in charge of the Naval Auxiliary Landing Field at the 36,200-acre San Clemente Island, said the case was not unique.Last December, he said, two civilians working for the Navy were accused of stealing "an unspecified number of lobster" from legal commercial traps set near the island.

Follow Ups:

Post a Followup




[ Follow Ups ] [ Post Followup ] [ California Scuba Diving BBS ] [ FAQ ]