By Catherine Rentz
Lawrence "Daniel" Murphy, 37, of St. Michaels pleaded guilty Friday to illegally harvesting striped bass from the Chesapeake Bay. He served periodically as a helper on the Kristin Marie between 2007 and 2012 with Tilghman Island watermen Michael D. Hayden, Jr. and William J. Lednum. In early 2011, he, Hayden and Lednum attempted to harvest more than 20,000 pounds of striped bass using illegal, unattended and unmarked weighted gill nets fish around "Bloody Point" on the bay before the season was opened. When they went to retrieve the nets on the morning of Feb. 1, 2011, law enforcement officers were waiting for them.
Between December 2007 and February 2008, the men harvested at least 25,406 pounds of striped bass with a market value of at least $66,000 using similar illegal methods and then sold the fish to wholesalers in Delaware, Pennsylvania, New York and Maryland.
Hayden and Lednum already pleaded guilty this summer. Murphy's offense was a violation of the federal Lacey Act that protects fish and wildlife. He faces a maximum sentence of up to five years imprisonment, followed by a supervised release of three years and a fine of $250,000. He will be sentenced on December 19.
The striped bass, also known as the rockfish, is Maryland's official state fish and most important commercial and recreational fish species.