By Bill Trotter
A high-profile member of the Passamaquoddy Tribe is one of eight people who have been charged with felony elver poaching in New York, according to an official with that state’s Department of Environmental Conservation.
Frederick J. Moore III, a former Passamaquoddy tribal representative to the Maine Legislature, is facing three felony charges in New York after he “surrendered himself” to department officials on April 8, Lisa King, public information officer with the New York state agency, said Friday in an email.
Moore, 53, of Perry has been charged with possession of American eels in excess of the limit; possession of undersized American eels; and not having a state-issued food fish permit, all of which are felonies, according to King. She said in an email that all three are considered felony charges because the value of the eels in Moore’s possession was more than $1,500.
Moore also has been charged with a misdemeanor count of conspiracy to commit a crime and with using an eel trap with a mesh size smaller than the minimum limit allowed, according to King.
Attempts Friday to contact Moore have been unsuccessful.
Officials with the tribe and with Maine Department of Marine Resources did not respond Friday to messages requesting comment.
Two other Perry residents — Frederick J. Moore IV, 21, and Kyle S. Lewey, 21 — also turned themselves in to New York state officials on April 8, King indicated. All eight people — the three men from Maine, four New York residents and one from Rhode Island — are facing identical charges. They are due to be arraigned in Suffolk County First District Court in Central Islip, N.Y., on June 25, she said.
King declined to release additional information about the allegations. It is not clear where the alleged violations occurred, but Riverside, N.Y., where King said the defendants “surrendered themselves” to officials at a state police barracks, is on eastern Long Island.
Moore twice has served as the tribe’s representative to the Legislature, in the 1990s and again in the mid-2000s. In the past couple of years, since the price of elvers skyrocketed, he has been highly critical of the state’s position on how the tribal elver fishery should be managed.
Moore spoke to reporters last year in Augusta after tribal officials met with state legislators and Patrick Keliher, commissioner of Maine Department of Marine Resources, to try to resolve a dispute over whether the state can impose fishery management measures on the tribe.
Moore said at the time that the tribe shares the goal of Gov. Paul LePage’s administration to eliminate elver poaching, but added that the state’s Marine Patrol should focus its attention on serious offenders rather than tribal fishermen who manage the resource sustainably.
The meeting was held after Maine law enforcement officers had confiscated fishing nets from tribal members who, according to the state, did not have state-approved licenses.
“It should have been done a long time ago,” Moore said in 2013 about not targeting Passamaquoddys with tribal licenses. “The state of Maine should be focusing on apprehending criminals across the state of Maine rather than coming Down East to manufacture them.”
Others charged in New York along with the three Perry residents include Ginew L. Benton, 33, of Hope Valley, R.I; Michael D. Cardoze, 43, of Brooklyn, N.Y.; Daniel Patrick White, 52, of Akwesane, N.Y.; Wallace C. Wilson, 34, of Mastic, N.Y.; and Gordell S. Wright, 41, of Southampton, N.Y.