By Michael Dumas
MOBILE, Alabama – The captain of a fishing vessel was sentenced to more than five years in prison for charges related to a federal sting set up to stop the catching and sale of illegal red snapper and other fish.
David Braley, of Baldwin County, pleaded guilty in March and was sentenced on June 26 to serve 30 months for violating the Lacey Act, which prohibits interstate shipment of fish or wildlife taken in violation of state law.
However, according to court records, Braley also threatened physical violence against a government witness over Facebook, which netted him an additional 63-month sentence. The two sentences were ordered to be run simultaneously by U.S. District Court Judge Kristi DuBose.
Braley is one of several commercial fishermen and a seafood dealer prosecuted for Lacey Act violations, most of whom have already been sentenced. He, along with Hunter Evans, Josh Jones, James Martin, Natalie McArdle, Matthias Kumm, Tiffany Cooner Wilson and John Whitworth were netted as part of an 18-month undercover operation involving agents of both the federal government and several state agencies.
According to his plea agreement, Braley was the captain of the "Seminole," a vessel he took into federal waters in July 2012 to fish for red snapper and red grouper, among other fish. Upon his return, Braley contacted undercover agents and sold 320 pounds of snapper for about $1,280, the document said.
In addition to his prison time, Braley was also ordered to pay $4051 in restitution.
Additional sentences to the above defendants include:
- Hunter Evans – 3 years' probation, plus $304.32 in restitution
- Josh Jones – 5 years' probation, plus $16.20 in restitution
- Matthias Kumm – sentencing set for July 11
- Natalie McArdle – sentencing set for July 11
- John Whitworth – 3 years' probation, plus $14,050.04 restitution
- Tiffany Cooner Wilson – 5 years' probation, plus $3,556.28 in restitution