A commercial fish processor in Ohio and four of its employees have been charged with crimes for stealing more than a hundred fish that were supposed to be donated to a local charity. The state’s investigation into the Sandusky-based Lake Fish Company began in 2021 and wrapped up in late June, according to a statement from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
As part of their multi-year investigation, officials concluded that the defendants stole 112 walleyes, one steelhead, one yellow perch, and three whitefish. These fish were all caught during a tournament, and the processors were supposed to clean and fillet the fish before bringing them to a local soup kitchen. Instead, they kept the fish for themselves.
“Many walleye tournaments that occur on Lake Erie donate harvested fish to a local charity organization to support those in need,” the ODNR explained. “A commercial fish processor is paid to clean donated fish and return the ready-to-cook fillets to the charity.”
After receiving a report that the fish were not donated but stolen, the agency executed a search warrant in November 2021, seizing video surveillance and fish processing records.
All five defendants have since pled guilty to one felony charge and a total of 24 misdemeanor charges. They were ordered to pay $24,120 in restitution to the charitable organization, along with $13,000 in restitution to the state’s Division of Wildlife. The company will also have its wholesale fish license suspended for 30 days. Additional sentencing is scheduled for November, and at least two of the defendants could face jail time, KSN News reports.
The five defendants named in the case are Craig Carr, 55, of Oak Harbor; Dale Trent, 59, of Port Clinton; Thelma Tower, 69, of Sandusky; Stanley Swain, 55, of Milan; and Lake Fish Company Inc.
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