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September 4, 2003
CONTACT: Capt. Brad Williams (FWC) - (850) 595-8978
Special Agent Allan Coker (NMFS) - (850) 729-8628

An Alabama charter boat captain was indicted this week by a federal grand jury on three felony charges related to illegal snapper fishing in the Gulf of Mexico in April.

Sandy Smith, 61, Orange Beach, is charged with the destruction or removal of property (red snapper) to prevent seizure; assault or resistance to officers in the performance of their duties; and making false statements to a federal law enforcement officer.

Smith’s troubles began April 17 when two Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) law enforcement officers, who are deputized as special federal officers, attempted to stop a 46-foot vessel 22 miles south of the Alabama state line which they suspected was fishing for red snapper.  The recreational red snapper fishing season in federal waters did not open until April 21.

As FWC officers Dan Hahr and Tim Trepanier approached the “Misty” with their blue lights activated, they saw a deck hand throw a red snapper over the side of the vessel.

“Then, as the two officers tried to overtake the Misty on the port side, Smith turned his vessel hard to port, almost causing a serious collision,” according to a report filed by Hahr.  When the two officers boarded the Misty, they found one red snapper in a fish box.  Later, they recovered the snapper thrown overboard.

The final count of the indictment stems from a May 14 interview between Smith and two special agents of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) who alleged that Smith gave a false account of the incident.

The FWC and NMFS routinely work together in federal waters in the enforcement of regulations pertaining to both reef fish and highly migratory species.





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