More charges may be filed against captain forshooting sea lions

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Posted by on December 13, 2004 at 21:36:11:

LOS ANGELES Additional charges will be filed stemming from an investigation into the alleged shooting of sea lions by a Harbor City fishing charter captain, a prosecutor said Monday.

The announcement came after John Gary Woodrum, 38, entered not guilty pleas to two misdemeanor counts of shooting marine mammals.

Federal prosecutors filed the charges last week in the form of a federal information, rather than seeking an indictment through a grand jury.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Johns said the charges were filed as an information because they were misdemeanors and because there was a deadline pending in which prosecutors needed to file their formal criminal allegations or drop the case.

"There are other aspects and alleged violations in this case," Johns said, adding that the investigation is continuing.

"It's fair to say there will be other charges against other individuals and entities," he added.

Woodrum's lawyer Carmen Trutanich said he had heard that additional charges were possible. But he did not know the nature of the allegations or whom they might be filed against.

Trutanich said planned to meet with Johns and he wants to see the evidence that prosecutors have against his client.

"The charges against Mr. Woodrum are merely allegations," he said. "I did learn there are no photographs of any seals, living or otherwise."

He also said he did not believe there was forensic evidence.

The information alleges that Woodrum "did knowingly take a marine mammal by hunting, killing, and attempting to hunt and kill one or more California sea lions" in U.S. waters.

Woodrum was arrested Nov. 7 while captaining a boat for San Pedro-based 22nd Street Sportfishing.

Two agents with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Fisheries Office for Law Enforcement said they witnessed him shooting at sea lions. The agents were posing as fisherman on the charter, which traveled from San Pedro to near Catalina Island.

In court papers, an agent said he began investigating Woodrum after passengers on October charter complained they saw their charter's captain shooting at sea lions.

The misdemeanors charges are punishable with a maximum one-year in jail and up to a $100,000 fine for each count.

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