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Home » New York Fisherman Convicted of Criminal Conspiracy, Obstruction of Justice

New York Fisherman Convicted of Criminal Conspiracy, Obstruction of Justice

by Grayson Henderson
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A federal jury convicted Montauk, New York, U.S.A.-based fisherman Christopher Winkler of multiple criminal charges on 4 October after the U.S. Department of Justice accused him of overfishing and falsifying reports.

“While most U.S. fishermen follow the law, some still feel that they are above it,” NOAA Office of Law Enforcement, Northeast Division Acting Assistant Director Michael Henry said. “It is our job to protect honest fishermen and good actors and this verdict should serve as a reminder that those who break the rules will be held accountable.”

The DOJ alleged Winkler harvested summer flounder and black sea bass in excess of quotas and state limits on at least 200 fishing trips while captaining the New Age trawler between 2014 and 2017. Winkler then covered up his activities by falsifying his fishing vessel trip reports, while his co-conspirators falsified dealer reports, according to the government. Two co-conspirators named in the trial, Montauk-based fish dealers Bryan Gosman and Asa Gosman, pled guilty in November 2021 and testified against Winkler at the trial, and their company, the Bob Gosman Co. was fined USD 50,000 (EUR 44,000).

The scam was used to cover up the overharvesting of approximately 200,000 pounds of fish, which the DOJ valued at USD 750,000 (EUR 708,000).

On 4 October, Winkler was convicted of one count of federal criminal conspiracy, two counts of mail fraud, and two counts of obstruction of justice.

“Fluke and black sea bass play a vital part in our marine ecosystem and quotas are designed to prevent overfishing and stabilize populations for the public good,” DOJ Environment and Natural Resources Division Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim said. “We will continue to seek justice against those who flout laws that protect fisheries and the fishing industry.”

Winkler’s attorneys plan to appeal the verdict, according to the Associated Press.

Source: SeafoodSource

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