By Adam Linhardt
A federal grand jury has filed an additional indictment against three Lower Keys brothers already facing charges of harvesting spiny lobsters from illegal habitat called casitas, catching more than their daily commercial bag limit, and falsifying commercial fishing reports to conceal their take.
Fishermen Charles and Tyson Veach and their company, Super Grouper Inc. of Stock Island, have been additionally charged by the U.S. Attorney's Office with selling illegally caught lobster on three dates in August, according to court documents.
The pair are accused of selling 370 pounds of lobster on Aug. 15, selling 437 pounds on Aug. 18 and selling 451 pounds on Aug. 19.
A third brother, Ryan Veach, was charged previously in an indictment handed down in August.
The brothers and Big Coppitt Key commercial fish dealer Dennis Dallmeyer were previously charged with "failing to make accurate and timely reports to the State of Florida of all harvested lobster as required by law, and by fraudulently attributing lobster harvested in excess of the legal daily limit to others who were not party to the lobster harvesting and sales," according to the previous indictment.
Dallmeyer has also been charged with buying the illegally harvested lobster and helping the brothers cover up the crimes, according to a federal indictment.
The men's charges involve multiple incidents in which the brothers harvested lobster from illegal habitats and exceeded daily commercial limits dating back to 2009, according to the indictment.
The company, Super Grouper, faces a maximum in fines of $1.5 million while Charles and Tyson Veach face a maximum of 15 years in prison. Ryan Veach faces a maximum of 10 years in prison.
All are accused of violating the Lacey Act, which makes it a federal offense to import, export, transport, sell or purchase in interstate commerce any wildlife protected at the state level.
The Lacey Act has been used in the past six years to prosecute numerous Keys defendants in illegal lobster casita and other commercial fishing cases. It has been the primary tool used by federal prosecutors in curbing casita use in the Keys.