Update on abalone poachers

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Posted by Steve Haynes on June 17, 2004 at 20:53:21:

Here's an update on the two abalone poachers from San Diego County the DFG nabbed in Mendocino County last month.

Kurt Ward and Joshua Holt, who were found in possession of 468 abalone last month, pled guilty to "Felony conspiracy to take abalone for commercial purpose and take & possession over limit." Possible sentences range from 16 months to 3 years in state prison with boat and gear subject to forfeiture.

The guilty pleas are part of a plea bargain for a 2 year sentence, not the 3 year maximum. I've heard through the grapevine that the prosecutors feel that since no jury or judge has ever sentenced the max, they had to accept this plea bargain.

The judge is not bound by the plea agreement. He can sentence the max if he feels it's warranted. The Mendocino County judges need to hear from you on this issue. Please send a letter to:

Judge David Nelson
Superior Court
100 N. State St.
Ukiah, CA 95482

Sentencing is set for June 30, 2004. Please get a letter in the mail right away and encourage your diving friends to send letters.

Your letter should:

1. Have a "re" line including:

Joshua Holt and Kurt Ward
Criminal Case No. MCUK 04-60161 002

2. Mention the sentencing date of June 30, 2004.

3. Be polite. The judge will not be interested in hearing the poachers called scum. The judge and the prosecutor will not be interested in being called wimps.

4. The judge will be interested in why 2 years is or is not an appropriate sentence. If you think 2 years is appropriate, say so. There is often a tendency to substitution probation for jail time. If you think actual prison time rather than probation is appropriate, say that too and explain why.

It would also be helpful to send a cc of your letter to the prosecutor:

Office of the District Attorney
Mendocino County
P.O. Box 1000
Ukiah, CA 95482

Letters can be faxed to the District Attorney at (707) 463-4687. The general e-mail address for the District Attorney is

Steve Haynes
President, San Diego Council of Divers

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