Caught in 2010, one man could lose fishing license
A Yolo County jury convicted a repeat sturgeon poacher and his accomplice of multiple felonies and poaching charges stemming from a 2010 poaching investigation. They were convicted Thursday with sentencing scheduled for Aug. 1.
According to the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, Nikolay Krasnodemskiy, 41, of North Highlands, and his partner Petr Dyachishin, 54, of Citrus Heights, were observed catching and retaining oversized sturgeon and processing their eggs into caviar in February 2010.
An extensive investigation conducted by Fish and Wildlife officers from the Delta Bay Enhanced Enforcement Project and the Special Operations Unit proved the two were selling the sturgeon and their eggs on the black market for personal profit. Sale of sturgeon, their parts, or any fish caught with a recreational fishing license is illegal.
Krasnodemskiy and Dyachishin were each convicted of two felonies related to conspiracy, in addition to multiple counts of commercial sales of sturgeon, possession of oversized sturgeon, failure to tag sturgeon and possession of sturgeon over the annual limit.
California's sturgeon population is on the edge of sustaining a recreational fishery. As a result, sturgeon anglers must adhere to strict size, limit and tagging requirements to help wildlife officers distinguish between honest anglers and poachers, and to help Fish and Game biologists maintain adequate scientific data on the fishery and protect the larger breeding adults.
"Taking these poachers out of business will help ensure a healthy sturgeon population into the future," said Fish and Wildlife Capt. David Bess, who participated in the investigation.
Krasnodemskiy was the subject of multiple sturgeon poaching investigations including Operation Delta Beluga II in 2005, which culminated in a conviction and revocation of his fishing license. Soon after his fishing license was reinstated in 2009, he became the focus of another sturgeon poaching investigation. By February 2010, wildlife officers had observed him continue his sturgeon poaching activities, including commercial sales.
Wildlife officers will seek a permanent revocation of Krasnodemskiy's fishing license and forfeiture of all fishing gear seized during the investigation.
Fish and Wildlife was assisted in prosecuting the pair by the Yolo County District Attorney's Office.