By Tom Stienstra
One of the black holes in the media is the follow-up reporting on arrests and whether, under scrutiny, the cops got them right or not.
A wildlife story that TV blew up last year and then was forgotten - a sweep of suspected abalone poachers from the Bay Area - was resolved last week in favor of the abalone, reported Fish and Wildlife Lt. Patrick Foy.
It's a significant outcome, Foy said, because the suspects, who included repeat offenders, were caught, prosecuted and then punished - three steps you don't always see in some counties across the Bay Area and Northern California.
In Mendocino County Superior Court, Judge Clayton Brennan also issued a rare lecture in which he said, in part, "The local citizenry is concerned about abuse of a resource (abalone) that could become extinct due to poaching," Foy said.
A synopsis of the cases, according to Foy and court documents:
-- David Buzzard pleaded guilty to possession of three abalone out of season, having no report card and driving on a suspended license. He was already on a 24-month probation for taking and possessing seven abalone over the limit. Buzzard was placed on 36 months' probation, sentenced to 10 days in jail, fined $2,469.50 and ordered to forfeit all abalone items and surrender all fishing and hunting privileges for the three years of probation.
-- Xiu Li and Chiew Saechao each pleaded guilty to possession of three abalone over the limit. Each was placed on probation for 12 months, fined $1,621.60, ordered to surrender all items seized when cited, and must forfeit all fishing and hunting privileges for one year.
-- Erik Deck took two abalone over the limit and illegally passed them to Matt Cohen. Each was fined $1,572.50 and ordered to surrender any diving items seized on the day of their citation
-- Tim McDonald was convicted of illegally passing off three abalone to his wife, Denise McDonald, who pleaded no contest to receiving them. Each was fined $680.
"Mendocino County takes crime against natural resources very seriously," Foy said. "The courts are imposing steep fines (compared with other counties), jail time and forfeiting gear. This is some of the most aggressive prosecution in the state, yet we still see the same poachers and poaching activity persist." More....