Striped Bass Poacher Gets Jail Time

BALTIMORE SUN – The third of four Maryland watermen involved in a vast striped bass poaching scheme was sentenced in federal court Wednesday, with the judge saying he wanted to send a message about the seriousness of the crime.

Kent Conley Sadler, 31, of Tilghman Island, was ordered to spend 30 days in jail and pay $25,000 in fines and restitution for his role in the Chesapeake Bay scheme.

Sadler worked with two other Tilghman Island watermen, William J. Lednum, 41, and Michael D. Hayden Jr., 43, who took more than 92 tons of illegally caught striped bass worth nearly $500,000 from the bay from 2007 to 2011, according to prosecutors. Sadler pleaded guilty to his role, which involved helping Lednum and Hayden take more than a quarter of that illegal catch.

U.S. District Court Judge Richard D. Bennett should be applauded for continuing to send the message that poaching is a serious crime. Federal prosecutors recommended no jail time for Sadler, but Bennett said that to deter similar crimes, it was important to send a message that poachers can expect more than just a financial penalty.

In September 2014, Bennett sentenced Lawrence Daniel Murphy, who also played a relatively minor role in the poaching scheme, to probation and ordered him to pay $40,000 in fines and restitution.

In December 2014, he sentenced Lednum, one of the major players in the poaching conspiracy, to a year and one day in prison and ordered him along with his co-defendant Hayden to pay $498,293 in restitution to the state. Hayden will be sentenced in February.

45 on “Striped Bass Poacher Gets Jail Time

  1. Tony

    I hope they also took his boat and captains license forever. He should be treated as any other criminal that stole. 1 yr to me seems kinda light but I guess you need to start somewhere.

    1. big fish

      You don’t need a captain’s license to commercial fish jackass

      1. Jolly Roger

        “Big Fish”
        Why the “Jackass” Comment? You must be a commercial Poacher yourself? Your comment makes it sound this way, that you’re siding with Poachers? I agree with others that say the Sentences of Jail/Prison time isn’t enough to stop these guys. They probably have the cash to pay these fines, from all the money they made before getting caught, plus what they’ll make when back on the waters!! Give them 5 yrs. first offence and add 10 more yrs.. each additional offence….

      2. countshockula

        You also don’t need to be a commercial fisherman to poach, jackass. What’s your problem anyway?

      3. Walter

        Sorry Frank, butt your the wipe, there are plenty of retailers and restaraunts that will buy the fish from you without a license. One example, Joes fish market on the cape cod canal, just had his vending license revoked for buying fish from unlicensed fisherman in 2014. The Jist of it is, the restaraunts just want the product for a good price, they don t care where or how you got the fish or whether you have I license. The retailer like “Joes”, pays less per pound to the unlicensed fisherman for the fish. The fact is you don’t need any licenses to be a crook! You don’t even need a boat in some cases!

    2. Chris

      Seizing their boats and gear is a stronger deterrent, but then maybe the judge had to think about the impact on their families. I have no sympathy for poachers though.

      We recreational fishermen (and to a lesser extent commercial as well) are operating under an honor system. Enforcement requires resources, meaning expanded government at least in this limited sense. A modest increase in enforcement resources at least in major urban waterways and back bays on the East Coast might have a measurable impact.

    3. Sakonnett angler

      Did this investigation have to last as long as it did. Allowing almost one hundred ton to be illegally caught. Fines need to be more harsh and definatly more jail time. These new regulations are a joke. Targeting the regular anglers. Commercial fishing is the issue.

      1. RI Angler

        Agreed Sakonnett Angler. You & I fish the same waters, I am sure. But I agree, commercial is doing far more damage than any recreational fisherman. I fished the outer banks about 5 years ago, when the draggers were raping the seas there, and culling out the biggest 50 fish, and tossing the others back, dead. These were all pre-spawn too. The news was covering it, and with the planes and copters, the flew over the area, and predicted there was over one million fish being killed, and thrown back, and wasted, PER DAY. Again, all pre spawn. They need to do the limits differently still. I also thing there should be a closed season, until after the spawning season.

      2. Walter

        Ah Little Rhodeys! Grew up there! Watched bull rakers dig at night in polluted areas. Had a problem one time on the Bay, called DEM for help they said call the coastguard our boats are all busy. 10 minutes later I was going by their docks and all their boats were tied up, did i go in there you ask, you bet i did. All the officers were BS ing with a coffee in their hand. I lit into them. How about a bullraker sees a deer swimming from Patience island to Prudence, wraps a rope around its neck and drags it to try and drown it, didn t work, so he beat it to death with a bluefish bat. Island residences called the police because they could hear screaming. This guy was later caught and ticketed for not having a license. Are you kidding me! He ended up with a very small fine! There’s no justice! I can tell you many beauties!

    4. Robert mccourt

      U know u are only can keep two a day on has to be 28/36in and the 2nd has to be 36in and up. I hope the guys learn Some thing

    5. sequoiact

      I agree.

      1 yr in jail is not enough. They should lose the boat and all the gear. So the criminal’s family can’t go to Disney World, so what. These criminals were raping the oceans and destroying fish stocks for future generations literally at wholesale. The authorities should follow the trail to the commercial buyers with very deep pockets and hammer them.
      The idea is to is to deter criminal behavior and 1 yr isn’t enough. This is like letting the dope smuggler keep his vehicle after he was caught hauling bails. The amount of fish killed by these guys working normally (within the law) is staggering. Unintended catch, too many…to small…left on deck or drowned only to be tossed back. We once followed a trawler and stopped counting the dead fish at 140. Pathetic. 1 yr EACH…500K fine each… 10 year probation to ensure these jerks don’t do it again.

  2. richard maynard

    The punishment for all of them is much too lenient and its a travesty that the fed prosecutors dont push for more prison time. Their actions negatively impacted thousands of sport fishermen all along the east coast. The value of the fish in the hundreds of thousands constitutes grand larceny. They should serve real time , months and years, and be under probation for years there after. Just like drug dealers, the should have their boats and gear confiscated and the fishing licenses permanently revoked

    1. Dave Macha

      You are right. It seems like a slap on the wrist to me. Make it 5 to 10 years and then it sends a real message. this just shows you can get away with anything.

  3. john

    He should be forced to raise 500, 000 via selling everything he bought with the illegal sales of rock fish.
    Anyone that bought from him should also pay and that money should be put into police enforcement of said criminals.
    This is ridiculous that they are curbing non commercial fishing and slapping criminals on the wrist.

  4. Concerned Angler

    This type of activity needs to be punished to the fullest extent of the law. Kent Sadler robbed fellow citizens of their futures by decimating local populations of stripers.
    This is only a drop in the bucket though. Lot’s of commercial fisherman sell their illegal by catch to Asian buyers right under the nose of state game officials.

  5. Ctguy

    Good job deep! People like this ruin it for everyone. If you want more people to bust come to connecticut. People here love to catch the daily limits bring them in then go back out catch there daily limit agian and the cycle goes on. Plenty of people doing this here should be a easy catch!

    1. Jolly Roger

      Ctguy; We have that problem up here in the Hudson River where thee Bass Spawn, in april and may people from all over come to catch these fish. Limit one per person per day. 18″ limit north of GW Bridge. The guys in boats run in an out of the Marinas unloading fish, then back out for more. Maybe need a Slot Limit, cause everyone wants that Big Cow full of eggs, that adds 10 pounds or more to the same size fish in the salt. Or we can do like Deer Hunters, have Tags Issued with Fishing Licenses?? A lottery like, where a few people get a Tag for a Trophy fish, that season/ area.


    Serial killers. I think ten years would’ve been sufficient and banned for life from fishing. As well as confiscating their boat.

  7. Capt Bob

    It is a start glad to see so many up set I Am CT Harbormaster and belong to a local Yacth Club that has all ways supported fishing by the rules Happy New year and have A safe upcoming season.

  8. Topwatercruiser

    This mad me real mad when I read this! I think they should send a stronger message to every person who fishes for bass or any other wildlife species! We need a model penalty for this type of crime and take everything including their homes away from them!

  9. Elkwalk

    Triple damages, loss of boat, gear and right to fish. Stiffer jail penalty and create a known poacher registry. Take away their right to any commercial or recreational fishing or hunting license. Follow the money and prosecute the buyers too. Makes me sick to read this.

  10. Gary young

    As fisherman, each and everyone of us has to look in the mirror. And ask ourselves are we gonna “Man Up ”
    As a whole we all need to stop acting like ass holes. And start to think
    More along the lines of Catch and Release. It’s a matter of showing up and growing up.

  11. Tony Novak

    I’m not at all convinced that this is a serious detriment. Thirty days jail time with heat and 3 meals provided might just be a “winter getaway” for this Maryland waterman who is likely out of work right now anyway. And the $25,000 fine is negligible if you calculate the more than $360,000 (assuming 92 tons at $2 per pound) that he probably took in through the illegal harvest. What is the deterrent from doing it again?

    1. Angler Ed

      I agree with the vast majority of the posters here. There should certainly be prosecuted. I have seen in my lifetime how moratoriums and regulations can seriously help failing fish stocks. However I just want to point out that nobody got rich here. $360,000. dollars over 4 years equals $90,000. per year divided by 3 men equals $30,000. per year. Now you have to take out boat payments, repairs,fuel, running gear etc. Divide that by the long hard hours these guys work exposed to the elements. Yes they may have taken other species besides the striped bass (rockfish) but in general I have never known a commercial fisherman that made a ton of money unless they were a huge corporation. Again I am not condoning poaching in any way shape or form just putting it in perspective.

  12. poaching’s cool

    what about the jerks who ate those fish?…. throw the book at em….
    its funny, you cant keep an 11 inch flounder….but ive had em on my plate in restaurants….the whole nazi fish police system is stupid….. we need no fishing zones( closed rotating sections for EVERYONE)….not cooler checking gestapo

    1. SammyG

      You need to regulate the fishing cause without these rules there will be no fish

    2. Jim

      As a fish exporter and former restaurant owner, a lot of the fish you see in restaurants now days are farmed, may over seas in Europe. If Ineed smaller fish for my diners I can buy Dover Sole or Turbot that is farm raised in any szie I need. Thee is also now a campany that is raising striped bass (not the hibred) just for that reason. They will be able to sell us smller fish.

      By the way, I am an avid stripoer fisherman from Rhode Island amd would love to meet one of these poachers in a back alley somewhere. We take our 3 2 fish a day and are happy. 92 tons the thought of that makes me sick.

  13. James

    Take their commercial license away along with impounding the boat and putting it up for auction. If you’re caught poaching in your car, it can be confiscated along with everything in it.

  14. Infish

    I agree take it all, everything license impounding the boat all the gear revoke the license commercial or otherwise for life. I would love to see a program of volunteer on boat and on land. Issue the volunteer some type of credentials so that if someone is doing wrong you can give them a ticket or written warning. Just my thought.

  15. Jamie

    Kinda a funny how everyone automatically blames commercial fisherman. It does not say they are commercial fisherman the article calls them watermen. And if you don’t think there is a huge problem with black market fish being caught by none commercial fisherman, then you are just being dumb sheeple who buy into the idea that commercial fishing is the down fall to fishing stocks.

  16. Norman Berry

    You think their sentence was too light, in England they’d have probably been offered counseling. Not not really but we have had cases of commercial fishermen and those that buy illegally caught fish not going to prison and being fined LESS than the money they’ve made from their crimes and to add insult to injury some of those involved have then been offered money to make a BBC TV series on fishing, Trawlermen. The problem in the UK is that people and judges still see the commercial fisherman as a man fighting the elements to scratch a living from the sea to feed his family where as it’s now a high tec operation in relative comfort that pays well.

    1. Strikeem

      Commercial fisherman are the reason that the fish sold in restaurants or fish markets that the majority of us eat! If people want to eat imported nasty frozen fish then go for shutting it down! But commercial fisherman make there living catching fish without catching there is no money made for them! The sentence is a little harsh! A mans trying to make a living and feed his family

  17. Robert mccourt

    You know u can only keep two fish a day one has to be 28/36in and the 2nd has to be 36/and up you should know the law. I think they want to sell them. Good thing they did not they would have be in jail a lot longer

  18. Simple Man

    Just another case of government over regulations. To all you who think this is good, it is you that the government is taking from! Wake up people! Commercial Fisherman sell there catch and we all then get a chance to enjoy it. Or maybe you think only those that can afford a boat a and a trip to coast should get to eat seafood. I think all who think this is right should only be allowed to eat farm raised shrimp from Thailand that has been feed pig manure. No respect for the working man in this country anymore. When the government over regulate honest men are forced to break the law!

  19. andre

    I have been following this since it came to light .What about the people that bought the fish?
    Now we know why there is lest fish to catch , I feel what ever property they have should be sold to pay the fines , and who ever used there boat that should be taken from them and never be able to fish again. Good job to all who had anything to do bringing these people to jail. I have been fishing strippers since I was able to fish with my dad and now 67 years old , lets hope this sends a strong message to anyone who would think about doing this again Good Job Guys

  20. RBD

    In my opinion it doesn’t go far enough. All 4 should be banned from any type of fishing including recreationally. The boat should be confiscated and either sold at auction or used as an artificial reef. Their license should be taken away and not given or sold to anyone. That’s one less license that we will not take more than its share.

  21. Wahrheit

    Totally agree that poachers like this should be impoverished with fines and penalties and sentenced to years behind bars. Sadly, putting things into perspective, these days we can’t get gutless lawmakers and judges to sentence killer drunk drivers to years in prison. We have become a nation devoid of the rule of law and accountability. Hasta la vista USA!

  22. Hangum

    Get a rope, hang the basterds, screw fines and short jail stints, hang the basterds, that’ll stop um
    Fish poachers, game poachers, drunk drivers, meth lab dealers, take um out back……string um up till people quit doin it I say….

  23. Tom

    I was working the four to twelve shift at wellfleet harbor,I was checking the long pier and saw two oriental men fishing.One was fishing and the other saw me and threw his fishing rod down.I told the one fishing to reel in his line,after a small argument he reeled in his line with about a 12 inch striper on it.They had a bucket that had a large amount of turtles in it.I threw those back and noticed a cooler in the car it was filled with shorts.By the time the night ended I had police and the epo all over these guys.They were from Quincy mass.The epo told me that they had grabbed these guys before.If you see a violation that is bad call the police most of the guys are good ..

  24. Doc-Gc

    Maybe its time we the people start taking matters in to our own hands. If the laws are too weak or these POS don’t give a crap even if there were harsher penalties, then maybe they need to be boarded by a few of us with the balls to do it and eliminate the problem once and for all, very easily done at sea, in the night or find out where they dock, kayak in and molotov cocktail there boat and if there in it, too bad. Problem solved and message sent to all the other wanna be idiots.

  25. Sir Plugs-A-Lot

    Should’ve taken every damn piece of hardware they own. Put them on a “NO License” list. Ass Bags!

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