One accused pirate charged with poaching has been convicted of drug dealing in Baltimore County
CRISFIELD, MD. – Natural Resources Police report that the piracy and poaching of oyster sanctuaries in the Chesapeake Bay by the persons most likely to see a direct benefit of the effort to perpetrate oyster harvesting in the future continues.
Police say that two Crisfield watermen were charged Monday by the Maryland Natural Resources Police with illegally harvesting oysters from protected waters.
Using the Maritime Law Enforcement Information Network system of cameras and radar, two officers monitored Paul Franklin Tyler III, 29, and Jeffrey Alan Cuff Jr., 31, at 10 a.m. as they dredged for wild oysters in the buffer zone surrounding the Somerset Oyster Sanctuary near Tangier Sound.
Once Tyler, the vessel operator, saw the NRP officers, he quickly left the sanctuary buffer with the dredge still in the water. The officers stopped the vessel and saw 14 bushels of oysters on board.
The officers checked all four corner buoys marking the sanctuary boundaries to ensure that they were on station as defined in state regulation. The 14 bushels of oysters were returned to the waters of the state.
The two watermen are scheduled to appear in Somerset District Court on March 10. If found guilty, Tyler and Cuff each could be fined as much as $3,000 and have their tidal fish licenses suspended for six months up to a year.
Paul Franklin Tyler III, of 3271 Lawsonia Road, Crisfield, Md., was cited on Aug. 25, 2014 by NRP Officer Jim Beveridge with possession of undersized male hard crabs. Tyler entered a guilty plea on Dec. 9, 2014 in Somerset County District Court and was fined $177.50 and court costs of $22.50. No jail time was assessed.
Tyler was cited on March 20, 2014 with possession of unculled oysters 7% by NRP Officer Jeffrey Howard. On June 2, 2014 Tyler entered a guilty plea in Somerset County District Court and was fined $132.50 and court costs of $22.50.
Tyler was cited on March 20, 2014 by NRP Officer J. W. Bromley IV with possession of unculled oysters 20% and in Somerset County District Court he entered a guilty plea and was fined $427.50 plus court costs. Two other citations for possession of unculled oysters of different percentages were dropped by States Attorney Dan Powell on June 10, 2014.
A criminal charge of trespassing against Tyler by NRP Officer Brimer on Feb. 14, 2014 was put on the Stet Docket on April 8, 2014 by Somerset County States Attorney Dan Powell. That charge can now be reinstated if Tyler is found guilty of the newest charges.
Cited on Jan. 10, 2014 by NRP Officer Jim Beveridge with failing to put oysters in approved containers. In Somerset County District Court on April 8, 2014, Tyler entered a guilty plea and was fined $477.50.
Cited by NRP Officer T. Brimer with possession of undersized rockfish on Dec. 13, 2010. Tyler entered a guilty plea in Somerset County District Court on Nov. 11, 2010 and was fined $327.50.
Cited by NRP Officer D. Tyler on Nov. 15, 2006 with possession of undersized striped bass. In Somerset District Court on Jan. 1, 2007, Somerset States Attorney Kristy Hickman dropped the charges.
Cited by NRP Officer D. Tyler on Nov. 15, 2006 with possession of over the limit of rockfish. In District Court on Jan. 11, 2007 Somerset County States Attorney Kristy Hickman dropped the charges.
Cited on Jan. 27, 2006 for hunting waterfowl with bait by NRP Officer Jeffrey Howard, Tyler entered into a plea deal with Somerset States Attorney Kristy Hickman on March 30, 2006 and entered a guilty plea. He was fined $500 and in the deal with Hickman, the $400 of the fine was suspended. Tyler was also fined $100 for an unplugged shotgun.
Jeffrey A. Cuff Jr., of 6399 Charles Cannon Road in Marion Station, Md., Somerset County, was charged in Baltimore County with distribution of drugs on Oct. 25, 2005. In a plea deal with the Baltimore County States Attorney Sandra A. O’Connor on April 10, 2006, Cuff pleaded guilty to possession with the intent to distribute narcotics and was sentenced to two years in prison. Under the terms of the deal, the sentence – all of it – was suspended and he was put on probation for eighteen months. All other charges were dropped by States Attorney O’Conner. Cuff was represented by Baltimore attorney Bradley Goldbloom in arranging this very sweet plea deal. Plea arrangements which result in little or no time or fine are often arranged by the defendant snitching on competing drug dealers and suppliers.
The State of Maryland noted on a Facebook page the following assessment of the current 2014-15 oyster season: “While harvests are down, the reduced supply of oysters from the Gulf of Mexico has resulted in “dockside” oyster prices- the price that a waterman gets selling to a wholesale buyer- that are setting records. In October dockside bushel prices sometimes exceeded $50, nearly twice the average price in 2012-2013 ($27). If this holds the average dockside value of a bushel of oysters could be higher this season than at any time in Maryland’s history.”